Biden's transition moves ahead

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:49 PM ET, Tue December 1, 2020
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2:12 p.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Second half of Biden's economic team will be unveiled in the coming days

From CNN’s Jeff Zeleny

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during her last news conference in office in Washington DC, on December 13, 2017.
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during her last news conference in office in Washington DC, on December 13, 2017. Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is formally introducing his economic team shortly in Delaware, with Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen, OMB Director and the Council of Economic Advisers expected to stand on stage with him in Wilmington.

But today’s announcement is only one part of his economic team. Biden has settled on Brian Deese to lead the National Economic Council, people familiar with the transition tell CNN, and is still making final decisions on US Trade Representative, Commerce Secretary and others posts. Those announcements will be made in the coming days, transition officials say.

So what’s the difference between the Council of Economic Advisers and the National Economic Council? A simple way to look at the CEA is “the president’s think tank on the economy.” 

Cecilia Rouse, who will be nominated to lead the CEA, will be joined by Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey. The three-member Council of Economic Advisers was formed in 1946 to give economic advice to the president.

The National Economic Council was formed in 1993, during the Clinton administration, to coordinate policy across the government. It does not require Senate confirmation like the CEA. 

As CNN reported on Sunday, Deese will play a lead role in implementing economic policy of the Biden administration. He is a veteran of the Obama-Biden administration, leading the auto rescue package and the economic recovery act. He was elevated through the ranks from deputy director of the NEC to deputy director of OMB. He played a key role in the Paris climate accords in 2015. 

11:27 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Schumer says he'll meet with 2 of Biden's nominees today

From CNN's Ali Main

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wears a protective mask while arriving at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, on Monday, November 30, 2020.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wears a protective mask while arriving at the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC, on Monday, November 30, 2020. Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will meet Tuesday with two of President-elect Joe Biden's top nominees, a sign Democrats are pressing forward with the transition process even as key Senate Republicans are holding back from calling Biden the President-elect.

Schumer said he would meet via video chat with Antony Blinken and Avril Haines, Biden's respective intended nominees for Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence —which require Senate confirmations — to discuss "how to repair some of the damage to America's reputation and relationships abroad done by the past administration." 

This comes during Schumer's push for the Senate to hold confirmation hearings for Biden's nominees immediately after the Jan. 5 Georgia runoff elections, which will determine the chamber's balance of power.

The New York Democrat was again critical of his Republican colleagues' resistance to Neera Tanden, Biden's choice to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

He pointed out that GOP senators confirmed President Trump's own OMB Director Russell Vought's nomination, despite his involvement in the Ukraine scandal that led to the President's impeachment and controversial rhetoric about Muslims.

"The Republican majority confirmed him, despite these inflammatory comments and despite his conduct as an interim director and despite his career as a partisan warrior. But a few critical tweets about substantive policy positions have caused Senate Republicans to label Miss Tanden's nomination quote 'radioactive.' Spare us the hyperbole," Schumer said.

The Senate minority leader also called for Congress to pass bipartisan coronavirus relief legislation.

11:13 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Biden's inauguration is next month. Here are key dates to watch from now until then.

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf, Will Muller and Kevin Liptak

President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre on November 25, in Wilmington, Delaware.
President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre on November 25, in Wilmington, Delaware. Mark Makela/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration is just 50 days away, and preparations have begun on what likely will be a scaled back event due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The transition has now started, and members of Trump's administration are talking to the Biden team about what to expect when they enter office in January.

Trump meanwhile has declined to offer a timeline for when he might ease up his losing battle to overturn the election results and has not said whether he will attend Biden's inauguration. 

Here's a look at some key dates from now until Inauguration Day:

Dec. 8

  • "Safe harbor" to determine election results and assign electors: Under the Electoral Count Act, this is the date by which states are meant to have counted votes, settled disputes, and determined the winner of their electoral college votes. Governors are supposed to create certificates of ascertainment listing the winner of the election and the slate of electors. In 2000, the Supreme Court ended a targeted recount in Florida because it could not be completed by this safe harbor date. That recount would not have changed the outcome of the election, but a full statewide recount could have made Al Gore president. This is when it could become very important for Republicans that they control more state legislatures than Democrats, including in most of the contested 2020 battleground states.

Dec. 14

  • Electoral votes cast: In law this date is the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. This year it falls on December 14. Six days after disputes are supposed to be settled, electors are supposed to meet in their respective states and cast votes for US President. They certify six sets of votes and send them to Washington. Many states have laws requiring their electors to support the winner of their state's election and can levy fines against faithless electors who go their own way.

Dec. 23

  • Electoral votes must arrive in Washington: The certified electoral votes have nine days to get from their states to Capitol Hill.

Jan. 3

  • New Congress is sworn in: Members of the House and new members of the Senate take the oath of office at noon. This is the official start of the 117th Congress.

Jan. 6

  • Electoral votes counted: Members of the House and the Senate all meet in the House chamber. The President of the Senate (that’s Vice President Mike Pence) presides over the session and the Electoral votes are read and counted in alphabetical order by two appointees each from the House and Senate. They then give their tallies to Pence, who announces the results and listens for objections. If there are objections or if there are, somehow, multiple slates of electors put forward by a state, the House and Senate consider them separately to decide how to count those votes.There are 538 electoral votes — one for each congressman and senator plus three for Washington, DC. If no candidate gets 270, the 435 members of the House decide the election. Each state gets a vote. The House has until noon on Jan. 20 to pick the President. If they can't, it would be the vice president or the next person eligible in the line of presidential succession.

Jan. 20

  • Inauguration Day: A new president takes the oath of office at noon. In a disputed election, if the House has not chosen a President but the Senate has chosen a vice president, the vice president-elect becomes acting president until the House makes a choice. And if there's no president-elect and no vice president-elect, the House appoints a president until one is chosen.
11:06 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

More than 940,000 absentee ballot have been requested in Georgia for the Senate runoff

From CNN's Caroline Kelly, Jason Morris, Ethan Cohen and Tori Apodaca

Gabriel Sterling, the Voting Systems Manager for the Georgia Secretary of State's office, answers questions during a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 6. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Gabriel Sterling, the Voting Systems Manager for the Georgia Secretary of State's office, answers questions during a press conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 6. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images) Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

More than 940,000 mail-in ballots have been requested in Georgia for the January 5 runoff election that will decide which party controls the Senate, Gabriel Sterling, the state's voting systems implementation manager, said Monday.

That includes 604,255 people who are eligible to receive mail-in ballots automatically, according to Sterling. For comparison, 1,322,529 absentee ballots were cast in November's general election, according to a release from the Georgia Secretary of State's office.

Sterling said that 1,040 ballots have been returned so far, a "small trickle that we expect to get larger soon."

Republicans are struggling to encourage voters to back incumbent Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue as President Donald Trump continues to cast doubt on the results of the presidential election.

If either of the incumbent Republicans hold onto their seats, the party will retain its majority control in the chamber. If Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock both prevail, however, Democrats would gain control of the Senate thanks to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote.

11:03 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Humanitarian aid group urges Biden to devote an additional $20 billion to fight Covid-19 globally

From CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq

An aerial view of victims of the COVID pandemic buried at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on November 21.
An aerial view of victims of the COVID pandemic buried at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Brazil, on November 21. Michael Dantas/AFP via Getty Images

The International Rescue Committee (IRC), a global humanitarian aid nongovernmental organization, has urged the new Biden-Harris administration in its first 100 days "to devote an additional $20 billion to the fight against COVID-19 globally."

This additional money will help "stem the immediate impact of the virus on lives and livelihoods amongst the world's most vulnerable," according to Elinor Raikes, vice president and head of program Delivery at ICR, in a statement released Tuesday.

"The number of people in need has increased by 40 percent to 235 million in the last year, almost entirely due to COVID-19 and the burden it is placing on economies, healthcare, education, and basic infrastructure," Raikes said in the statement. 

"President-Elect Biden must take urgent and expansive action to reverse these devastating trends, returning the US to global humanitarian leadership and galvanizing the international community into much-needed humanitarian action," Raikes added.

Biden has actively stresses that battling the coronavirus pandemic is a priority of his incoming administration and he appointed a Transition Covid-19 Advisory Board.

11:01 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Biden's inauguration is in 50 days. Here are the key priorities of his first 100 days in office. 

From CNN's Gregory Krieg, MJ Lee and Sarah Mucha

President-elect Joe Biden introduces key foreign policy and national security nominees and appointments at the Queen Theatre, on November 24, in Wilmington, Delaware.
President-elect Joe Biden introduces key foreign policy and national security nominees and appointments at the Queen Theatre, on November 24, in Wilmington, Delaware. Mark Makela/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team are preparing for an early, all-out push to pass an ambitious new stimulus bill, while also drawing up plans for a flurry of executive actions aimed at delivering on campaign promises and undoing the Trump administration's efforts to undermine key government agencies.

Biden will be inaugurated in January with a pressing mandate to confront simultaneous and interwoven public health, economic and racial crises. At the same time, his team will take over the work of spearheading one of the most complicated, politically fraught mass vaccination campaigns in American history.

Biden's agenda for his first 100 days in office will, according to both those close to him and outside groups in contact with his top aides, center on two key avenues of action:

  1. The passage of a broad economic aid package
  2. A series of executive actions aimed at advancing his priorities where legislation is not necessary.

Containing the Covid-19 pandemic, launching an economic recovery and tackling racial inequality are his most urgent priorities, transition officials say.

The scope of stimulus legislation will likely turn on the results of the Senate run-offs in Georgia in early January, a little more than two weeks before Biden is inaugurated.

If either Democrat fails to unseat their GOP incumbent rivals, and the body remains under the thumb of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, Biden's ambitions will be checked from the outset. The immigration legislation Biden said he plans to send to the Congress within his first 100 days would likely be dead on arrival.

But sources familiar with internal discussions stressed that getting a grip on the surging coronavirus crisis is far and away Biden's top concern. Until that happens, one of the sources said, the President-elect's wider legislative agenda is likely to take a backseat.

Read more here about Biden's priorities in the early days of his administration.

10:57 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Trump has raised more than $170 million since Election Day

From CNN's Jeremy Diamond

U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House after exiting Marine One in Washington DC, on Sunday, November 29.
U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House after exiting Marine One in Washington DC, on Sunday, November 29. Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Trump and his political operation have raised more than $170 million since Election Day, a person familiar with the matter said, a massive fundraising haul fueled by Trump's baseless allegations that the election was rigged.

The fundraising flowed into the coffers of Trump's joint fundraising committee in less than four weeks thanks to a barrage of fundraising solicitations to Trump's supporters, urging them to donate to an "Election Defense Fund" as the President hyped up conspiracy theories about a stolen election.

In reality, an increasingly large share of the funds have helped retire the Trump campaign's debt and fund the President's future political operation via a political action committee.

The campaign has sent exactly 400 fundraising appeal emails between election night and Tuesday morning, as well as 125 fundraising text messages.

The Trump campaign declined to comment on the fundraising figures.

CNN's Betsy Klein contributed reporting to this post.

10:48 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

This is a central factor around the GOP's decision to stay quiet on Trump's baseless election fraud claims

From CNN's Manu Raju 

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks through the Hart Senate Office Building on November 18, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks through the Hart Senate Office Building on November 18, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Alex Wong/Getty Images

A wide-range of Republican senators are shrugging off President Trump’s evidence-free claims that mass voter fraud cost him the election, ignoring their party leader’s relentless attacks over a foundation of American democracy amid their growing expectation that the matter will be resolved within two weeks – without their involvement. 

As they watch Trump torch local Republicans and governors who refuse to try to overturn the election results, many have stayed quiet as more states certify Joe Biden’s victory and more of the president’s legal challenges collapse. 

A central factor around the GOP’s decision to stay quiet: The two critical Georgia Senate runoffs where Trump can play a key role in turning out their base to help keep the chamber in Republican hands next Congress. Infuriating Trump now will only undercut their efforts to lean on a President who holds enormous sway with their core voters, Republican sources said Monday. 

In the meantime, some prominent senators on Monday dismissed the idea that they have much of a role to play in pushing back on Trump’s unfounded claims as the legal and state certification process plays out — as powerful Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell remained silent Monday after saying little about the president’s weeks-long campaign to undermine faith in the elections. 

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a member of McConnell’s leadership team, said Monday that the “verdict was rendered, and I think that’s becoming clearer by the minute” and that he’s “already moving on” to prepare for the incoming Biden administration.  

But Cornyn, like most Senate Republicans, would not refer to Biden as “President-elect,” saying the matter will be resolved on Dec. 14, when electors meet in their state capitols to cast their ballots to make official that Biden is the winner. 

“I really don't feel the need to comment anymore on this,” Cornyn said when asked about Trump’s conspiracy theories. “I don't think that's very productive.” 

Indeed, many Republicans – weary after four years of responding to Trump’s controversies and scandals – said that the fact that the transition is formally underway is more important than pushing back against Trump’s false claims that the election was rigged and speaking out against his brazen efforts to pressure state officials to overturn the will of voters. 

10:42 a.m. ET, December 1, 2020

Biden will formally introduce key members of his economic team in Delaware today

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Kate Sullivan

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a Thanksgiving address at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on November 25. Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is set to be formally introduce key members of his economic team today during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, according to the transition team.

Yesterday Biden made the long-expected announcement of Janet Yellen as treasury secretary along with three other women in top roles on a diverse team that will help him navigate the nation's punishing fiscal headwinds in hopes of building an economic recovery.

Biden named Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, elevating Tanden, the CEO and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, into the top ranks of his administration. Tanden would be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to become director of the office if confirmed by the Senate.

He named Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton economist, to lead the Council of Economic Advisers, which puts another Black woman in a high-profile role of Biden's top advisers. Rouse would be the first woman of color to chair the Council of Economic Advisers if confirmed by the Senate. She served on the council during the Obama administration.

Among the barrier-breaking nominees Biden announced is Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo, president of the Obama Foundation in Chicago, for deputy Treasury Secretary, serving under Yellen. If confirmed, he would be the first Black deputy Treasury Secretary. Adeyemo served on the National Economic Council of the Obama administration and last fall was named as the first president of the Obama Foundation.

Read more here.