Biden chides Trump for lack of cooperation
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden met Thursday with governors from both parties and criticized President Donald Trump’s unprecedented attempt to block the peaceful transition of power, saying it was hindering the flow of information about programs to develop a vitally important coronavirus vaccine.
He also said that after he takes office, he looked forward to bipartisan cooperation that can improve efforts to slow the pandemic.
The president-elect reiterated his previous pledges not to institute a nationwide shutdown to curb the virus’s spread and repeated that more states instituting maskwearing mandates could save tens of thousands of lives.
“Unfortunately, my administration hasn’t been able to get everything we need,” Biden said during a video conference with the National Governors Association’s leadership team,
which consists of five Republicans and four Democrats.
He specifically cited Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s partnership with private pharmaceutical companies to develop a COVID19 vaccine.
“We haven’t been able to get into Operation Warp Speed, but we will take what we learned today and build it into our plan,” Biden said in remarks after the meeting, which included Republicans Larry Hogan of Maryland, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Kay
Ivey of Alabama, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Gary Herbert of Utah.
Afterward, Biden spoke about distribution of a vaccine once one is ready, saying, “There has to be a prioritization.”
“That’s why I’d like to know exactly what this administration has in mind in terms of their Operation Warp Speed and how they plan it,” he said of the Trump White House. “And that’s what we talked about with the governors today. They all mentioned the need to focus on the communities that have been left behind.”
Biden participated from a theater in Wilmington with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Also appearing online were the leaders from his virus task force.
Biden pledged to forgo a national shutdown “because every region, every area, every community can be different,” saying that imposing a countrywide mandate would be counterproductive.
Instead, Biden noted that 10 governors had imposed statewide mask mandates to combat the virus, calling it a “patriotic duty.” He’s previously promised to ask all governors to impose such rules and go around holdouts to local and county officials to cover as much of the U.S. as possible.
Ivey told participants that both parties in Congress need to come together to provide more coronavirus response funding, according to a readout provided by her office. It made no mention of the Alabama governor recognizing Biden as president-elect.
Hogan, by contrast, told The Associated Press recently that Trump’s unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud were “dangerous” and “embarrassing.”
“As I said on the day that the president-elect was declared the winner, his election has provided a mandate for cooperation,” Hogan said after the videoconference with Biden. “We look forward to working closely with the BidenHarris administration as we continue to face this unprecedented global pandemic.”
Biden also took questions from reporters and disclosed he’d decided on a treasury secretary nomination for his new administration. Biden refused to provide more details, except to say it was a choice that would satisfy Democrats from across the political spectrum— presumably including outspoken progressives who worried Biden might go for a safer, more moderate selection.