The latest on Biden's transition

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020
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5:19 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020

Biden tells bipartisan group of governors: "We're here to be your partner, and to listen"

From CNN's Sarah Mucha and Jasmine Wright

During a virtual call with governors Wednesday evening, President-elect Joe Biden spoke to the bipartisan group about tackling the pandemic, reiterating his plans for the first 100 days that include mandating mask-wearing on federal lands and reopening schools. 

"Also I'm going to ask — and I know it's going to be controversial for some of you — but I'm going to ask that we're going to be able to open schools at the end of a hundred days," he said. "That's going to take a lot of money but we know how to do it. If we have the money and the funding. We do everything from ventilation to more teachers, smaller class sizes, a whole range of things.”

Biden emphasized that he intends to work with the governors on every aspect of beating the pandemic in the nation.  

“We're here to be your partner, and to listen,” Biden said, according to pool reports.

According to pool reports, Biden said he wants to work with governors on the “Herculean task” of “delivering safe, equitable and free vaccinations.”

“It's going to take the federal government, and working with you guys to decide what the best way to do it. It's going to require us to be clear with the American people about what to expect through this massive public education campaign,” and taking steps to reach underserved communities.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke first, told the governors that her "door will always be open" to them as they work to confront the pandemic, adding a frequently used line that the American people in need of help don't care if they are Democrats or Republicans. 

5:06 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020

Biden expected to get Covid-19 vaccination early next week

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to get his first Covid-19 vaccination early next week, CNN has learned, and plans to get his shot for all to see.

“I don’t want to get a head of the line, but I want to make sure we demonstrate to the American people that it is safe to take,” Biden told reporters today in Wilmington, Delaware. “When I do it, I’ll do it publicly, so you can all witness my getting it done.”

People familiar with the plans say Biden is likely to get his shot next week.

The delay has not been borne out of hesitation, aides say, but rather logistics of administering the shot in a public setting.

4:04 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020

Diana Taylor, Bloomberg's longtime partner, under consideration to serve in Biden administration

From CNN's Jessica Dean

Diana Taylor speaks at a campaign rally for Michael Bloomberg on January 15 in New York.
Diana Taylor speaks at a campaign rally for Michael Bloomberg on January 15 in New York. Scott Heins/Getty Images

The Biden transition team is talking with New York business executive Diana Taylor about a potential role in the Biden administration, according to a source familiar.

Taylor, the longtime partner of former New York City mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, has expressed interested in SBA, but could be considered for other roles as well, according to the source.

Taylor has deep ties to the business community and previously served as the New York State Superintendent of Banks. A former Republican, Taylor registered as a Democrat in 2018.

The New York Times was the first to report the news.

2:41 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020

Key things to know about Biden's expected White House climate czar

From CNN's Dan Merica and Kate Sullivan

Gina McCarthy served as the administrator of the EPA from 2013 to 2017 under former President Barack Obama.
Gina McCarthy served as the administrator of the EPA from 2013 to 2017 under former President Barack Obama. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will name Gina McCarthy as his White House climate czar, a source familiar with the decision tells CNN, making the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency his top domestic climate coordinator.

McCarthy, who currently serves as the head of the Natural Resources Defense Council, will lead Biden's newly formed Office of Domestic Climate Policy, a source said. McCarthy served as the administrator of the EPA from 2013 to 2017 under former President Barack Obama.

The move is the latest example of Biden's prioritization of the climate crisis.

Here are some key things to know about McCarthy's role and experience:

  • McCarthy will join former Secretary of State John Kerry, who the President-elect named his special presidential envoy for climate, as top Biden officials tasked with addressing the issue. Kerry will be a Cabinet-level official in Biden's administration and will sit on the National Security Council. Kerry is expected to focus on the foreign policy and international aspects of the climate crisis, while McCarthy will focus on domestic issues.
  • Kerry and McCarthy both sat on the Biden-Sanders unity task force focused on climate.
  • McCarthy was originally appointed by Obama in 2009 as assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. Prior to serving in the Obama administration, McCarthy was the commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. She has a career that spans decades across state and local levels working on environmental issues.
  • Since January, McCarthy has served as the president and chief executive officer of the NRDC, a non-profit international environmental advocacy group. In that role, McCarthy has led more than 700 attorneys, scientists, policy experts and advocates, according to the organization.

Read more here.

1:01 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020

Attendance at President-elect Biden's inauguration will be limited

From CNN's Manu Raju

The stage for the Presidential inauguration is prepared outside the U.S. Capitol on December 11, in Washington DC.
The stage for the Presidential inauguration is prepared outside the U.S. Capitol on December 11, in Washington DC. Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced Wednesday the planned limitations and guidance for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. 

“The JCCIC, in consultation with diversified public health and medical experts and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has determined that this global pandemic and the rise in COVID-19 cases warranted a difficult decision to limit attendance at the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies to a live audience that resembles a State of the Union,” committee chairman Roy Blunt said in a statement.

Traditionally, the committee would give out 200,000 tickets for the official ceremonies, but this year, members of Congress will be limited to themselves and one guest, according to the committee. 

"While the pandemic has forced us to limit in-person attendance, it also brings opportunities to honor our democracy in innovative ways so that Americans across the country can experience Inauguration Day from home,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar said.

Read more here.

12:50 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020

Buttigieg on the significance of nomination: I'm mindful "the eyes of history are on this appointment"

Pete Buttigieg, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, reacts to his nomination as Biden looks on during a news conference at Biden's transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 16.
Pete Buttigieg, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, reacts to his nomination as Biden looks on during a news conference at Biden's transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 16. Kevin Lamarque/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg was just formally nominated by President-Elect Joe Biden as his transportation secretary in Wilmington, Delaware.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Buttigieg would be the first LGBTQ Cabinet secretary approved by the chamber. 

Buttigieg used part of his remarks to note the significance of his nomination and shared a personal story about his journey.

"I'm also mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment. Knowing that this is the first time an American president has ever sent an openly LGBTQ Cabinet member to senate for confirmation," Buttigieg said. "I can remember watching the news, 17 years old, in Indiana, seeing a story about an appointee of President Clinton named to be ambassador, attacked and denied a vote in the Senate because he was gay. Ultimately able to serve only by recess appointment. At the time, I had no aspirations of being appointed by a president to anything. At that age I was hoping to be an airline pilot and I was a long way from coming out even to myself," he said.

Buttigieg said that when watching that story, he learned about some of the "limits that exist in this country" when it comes to who "is allowed to belong."

The transportation secretary nominee said he hopes his nomination today will inspire young people who are in a similar place as he was.

"But just as important, I saw how those limits could be challenged. So two decades later, I can't help but think of a 17-year-old somewhere who might be watching us right now, somebody who wonders whether and where they belong in the world, or even in their own family," Buttigieg said. "And I'm thinking about the message that today's announcement is sending to them."

Buttigieg thanked Biden for honoring his "commitment to diversity."

12:32 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020

Buttigieg paints vision of using transportation to connect communities

Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, listens as Biden announces his nomination during a news conference at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 16.
Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, listens as Biden announces his nomination during a news conference at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 16. Kevin Lamarque/AFP/Getty Images

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, President-Elect Biden's nominee for transportation secretary, said his focus would be on growth and equity all while "rising to the climate challenge."

"This administration can deliver policies and resources that will create jobs, rise to the climate challenge, and equitably serve all Americans," Buttigieg said. "Step one in building back better literally is to build."

Buttigieg talked about how transportation and infrastructure should be used to bring people together and boost the economy – in stride with the Biden administration's message of healing.

"At its best, transportation makes the American dream possible. Getting people and goods to where they need to be. Directly and indirectly creating good paying jobs," he said. "At its worst, misguided policies and missed opportunities can reinforce racial, economic and environmental injustice. Dividing or isolating neighborhoods."

Buttigieg cited his own experience in South Bend, Indiana, saying infrastructure "was at the heart of our vision" to get the city out of a recession.

"We reimagined how vehicles and people move through the city, unlocking new economic vibrancy in our urban core. We built up partnerships to improve rail service to public/private partnership that put our city at the cutting edge of bicycle mobility," he said.

12:11 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020

Biden introduces Buttigieg as transportation secretary nominee: "A new voice with new ideas"

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, from South Bend, Indiana, attends a meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia's Restaurant in New York, on April 29, 2019.
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, from South Bend, Indiana, attends a meeting with Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia's Restaurant in New York, on April 29, 2019. Bebeto Matthew/AP

President-elect Joe Biden is formally introducing former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg as his nominee for transportation secretary at an event happening now in Wilmington, Delaware.

If confirmed by the US Senate, Buttigieg would be the first LGBTQ Cabinet secretary approved by the chamber. 

"For secretary of transportation, I nominate mayor Pete Buttigieg. I got to know Pete on the campaign trail. He is one of the smartest people you will ever meet and one of the most humble," Biden said of his nominee. "A mayor from the heartland, a management expert, a policy wonk with a big heart, a veteran, intelligence officer deployed to Afghanistan while he was mayor. A new voice with new ideas, determined to move past old politics."

The President-elect praised the diversity of his Cabinet nominees so far.

"And by the end of this process, this Cabinet will be the most representative of any Cabinet in American history. We'll have more people of color than any Cabinet ever, we'll have more women than any Cabinet ever. We'll have a Cabinet of barrier breakers. A Cabinet of firsts," Biden said.

Buttigieg's selection also represents the first time the President-elect has tapped one of his former Democratic presidential opponents to join his administration as a Cabinet secretary.

The role of transportation secretary is expected to play a central part in Biden's push for a bipartisan infrastructure package. Buttigieg spearheaded a number of infrastructure projects as mayor, and as a presidential candidate, Buttigieg proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

The former mayor is seen as a rising star in the Democratic primary and rose to national prominence during the 2020 Democratic primary. Once an unknown mayor of a small city, Buttigieg became a top presidential contender and made history as the first LGBTQ presidential candidate to win primary delegates from a major party. 

Here's a look at who else Biden has selected for his Cabinet so far.

12:02 p.m. ET, December 16, 2020

Biden's inauguration will have a "live audience that resembles a State of the Union"

From CNN's Manu Raju

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced Wednesday the planned limitations and guidance for President-elect Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. 

“The JCCIC, in consultation with diversified public health and medical experts and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has determined that this global pandemic and the rise in COVID-19 cases warranted a difficult decision to limit attendance at the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies to a live audience that resembles a State of the Union,” committee chairman Roy Blunt said in a statement.

Members will be limited to themselves and one guest, according to the committee.