The latest on Biden's transition

By Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 8:01 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020
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3:42 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Biden says he sees no evidence cyberattack is under control: "It is a grave risk and it continues"

From CNN's Jasmine Wright

President-elect Joe Biden would not call the cyberattack an “act of war,” when asked by a reporter if he believes it is, but did say he has seen no evidence that it is under control.

“It is a grave risk and it continues,” Biden said in Delaware this afternoon. “I see no evidence that it’s under control.”

Biden says his team needs to look at the nature of the breach, the damage done and spoke of international “rules of the road” on cybersecurity to hold countries accountable.

He would also not foreshadow what options his incoming administration is looking at in terms of consequences.

Earlier, Biden slammed President Trump and his administration for not making an official attribution, saying it happened on “Donald Trump’s watch” when he wasn’t watching, accusing him of not prioritizing cybersecurity.

More on the hack: The US government is reeling from multiple data breaches at top federal agencies, the result of a worldwide hacking campaign with possible ties to Russia.

Investigators are still trying to figure out how much of the government may have been affected and how badly it may have been compromised.

Read more here.

Watch here:

3:35 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Here are the big points President-elect Biden says he will focus on when he takes office next month

Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden said that he has a detailed plan on what he intends to prioritize when he takes office in January, including vaccine distribution, more unemployment help for Americans and eviction protections.

Here's what he said he will focus on after inauguration next month:

Vaccine distribution

Biden said that he wants to make sure "we have all the money we need to get the vaccine to 300 million Americans at a minimum" over the next calendar year.

Unemployment

For those who are unemployed because of the pandemic, as well as small and big businesses, Biden said he wants to make sure "they continue to be able to live day to day."

"I would also ask for a moratorium to be evicted from your homes from not being able to pay rent, a moratorium on your mortgage getting paid," he said.

Small business assistance

Biden said that he thinks it's "critically important" to provide "direct payments to small businesses and others to be able to stay open, to be able to keep the people employed."

Job creation

"We're going to need to make sure that we're in a position that we can provide for the opportunity for people to begin to go back to work and get new jobs, developing infrastructure," Biden said.

3:24 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Biden says his pandemic relief plan will include a new round of stimulus checks

President-elect Joe Biden said that his pandemic relief plan will include a new round of stimulus checks for the American people.

When asked about the amount, he said, "That's a negotiating issue."

Biden added: "By the way, I think we owe Bernie Sanders and his Republican colleagues thanks for getting not all the stimulus we looked for, 1,200, but getting 600 done."  

Watch the moment:

3:22 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Biden calls the stimulus bill passed this week "a down payment"

President-elect Joe Biden said today that members of Congress "deserve credit for making the hard compromises" to pass the stimulus bill this week.

He added that the bill is "far from perfect" in his opinion, "but it does provide vital relief at a critical moment." 

Biden said the bill is the first step in addressing pandemic relief.

"However, as I've said all along, this bill is just the first step, a down payment, in addressing the crisis -- crises, more than one, that we're in. There is a lot more work to do," he said.

Biden said that early next year he will present his plan to Congress "for what comes next."

More on the stimulus: Congress voted Monday evening to approve a far-reaching $900 billion Covid relief package that promises to accelerate vaccine distribution and deliver much-needed aid to small businesses hit hard by the pandemic, Americans who have lost their jobs during the economic upheaval and health care workers on the front lines of the crisis.

The White House has said that President Trump will sign the legislation once it reaches his desk.

Final passage of the aid package came after Hill leaders announced Sunday evening they had finally reached a deal after months of bitter partisan stalemate and days of contentious negotiations that created uncertainty over whether an agreement could be reached at all or if talks would collapse.

The rescue package, which was negotiated on a bipartisan basis, was combined with a massive $1.4 trillion government spending bill to fund federal agencies for the new fiscal year in a 5,593-page bill.

Watch here:

3:14 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Biden: "I have absolute confidence in" the Covid-19 vaccine

President-elect Joe Biden receives a Covid-19 vaccine in Newark, Delaware, on Monday.
President-elect Joe Biden receives a Covid-19 vaccine in Newark, Delaware, on Monday. Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden continued to encourage Americans to get the Covid-19 vaccine, which he called "one of the biggest operational challenges the United States has ever faced."

"I got a chance to thank all of those nurses and docs at Christiana hospital for what they've been putting up with what they've been doing for so long. I look forward to the second shot, and I have absolute confidence in the vaccine. But we're in short supply. Taking the vaccine from a vial into the arm of millions of Americans is one of the biggest operational challenges the United States has ever faced," Biden said moments ago during a year-end message and news conference in Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden added: "And we're going to take many more months for that to happen. In the meantime, this pandemic rages on. Experts say things are going to get worse before they get better."

Some context: Biden received his first dose of the Pfizer and BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on live television Monday afternoon and reassured Americans of the vaccine's safety.

The shot, which Biden received in his left arm, was administered at ChristianaCare's Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, by Tabe Mase, who is a nurse practitioner and the head of employee health services at the hospital, according to the Biden transition team.

"We owe these folks an awful lot," Biden said, thanking those involved in the vaccine's development and distribution and front-line health care workers.

Biden said the Trump administration deserved "some credit" for Operation Warp Speed, the federal government's vaccine program, and their role in making coronavirus vaccinations possible.

"I also think that it's worth saying that this is, is great hope. I'm doing this to demonstrate that people should be prepared, when it's available, to take the vaccine. There's nothing to worry about. I'm looking forward to the second shot; so is Jill," Biden said.

Watch the moment:

3:06 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

President-elect Biden urges Americans to remain vigilant over holidays as "pandemic rages on"

From CNN's Elise Hammond and Kate Sullivan

President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. Alex Edelman/AFP/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden said that the vaccine offers Americans hope during the pandemic, but widespread distribution of doses is "one of the biggest operational challenges the United States has ever faced."

He urged people to continue to remain vigilant with masks and social distance during the holidays because "in the meantime the pandemic rages on."

Biden delivered the remarks ahead of Christmas in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday afternoon.

"Throughout this year, we had to forego many of our favorite holiday traditions," Biden said. "Like we did over Thanksgiving, we all have to care enough for each other that we have to stay apart just a little bit longer. I know it's hard. We have a long way to go, but we're grateful that we've got the vaccine."

"This has been one of the toughest years we've ever faced as a nation," he added.

Biden said he and Jill Biden’s heart goes out to the families who feel loss during this “dark winter.”

“Our hearts go out to all of you who have fallen on hard times through no fault of your own I might add, unable to sleep at night, way down with the worry of what tomorrow will bring to you and for your family,” he said.

Some context: The speech comes amid a holiday season in which Americans have been advised by public health experts to not travel or gather in large groups, as coronavirus cases spike and the death toll rises across the country.

Biden also received his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on live national television on Monday and reassured Americans of the vaccine's safety.

4:11 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Biden will deliver a year-end holiday message soon. These are the topics he's expected to discuss.

From CNN’s Jeff Zeleny

President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday.
President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, on Saturday. Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

A day after receiving his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, President-elect Joe Biden will deliver a year-end holiday message this afternoon at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, aides said, during what is expected to be his last formal appearance before the holidays.

His remarks are likely to be 10 minutes or less, aides say, and he is poised to address the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine distribution, as well as the economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and the cyber attack against the United States.

He is expected to take questions from reporters, aides say.

Biden is planning to remain at his home near Wilmington through the Christmas holiday.

2:45 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

Alex Padilla will be the first Latino Senator to represent California

From CNN's Daniella Diaz

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla speaks during a news conference in September.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla speaks during a news conference in September. Kirby Lee/AP

Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' Senate seat on Tuesday, choosing the first Latino in state history for the role.

"His appointment will make history. But the @AlexPadilla4CA I know is far more interested in changing history — especially for the working men and women of our state and country," Newsom tweeted Tuesday. "I can think of no one better to represent the state of California as our next United States Senator."

Padilla responded to the announcement in a statement provided by the governor’s office.

"I am honored and humbled by the trust placed in me by Governor Newsom, and I intend to work each and every day to honor that trust and deliver for all Californians," Padilla said in the statement.

Padilla served as the state’s first Latino Secretary of State in 2015.

He will now be the first Latino Senator to represent California.

1:21 p.m. ET, December 22, 2020

The Electoral College votes will be counted in Congress on Jan. 6. Here's how the process will work. 

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf and Will Mullery

Then-Vice President Joe Biden presides over the counting of the electoral votes in January 2017.
Then-Vice President Joe Biden presides over the counting of the electoral votes in January 2017. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Just as then-Vice President Joe Biden oversaw the counting of electoral votes that gave President Trump the White House in 2017, now it will be Vice President Mike Pence, Trump's loyal soldier these last four years, who will announce on Jan. 6 the vote tally that officially makes Biden the winner.

And Republicans will have to choose how deeply they want to follow Trump into his rabbit hole of conspiracy theories.

Lawmakers will have the ability to raise objections about the vote — just like some Democrats did in 2017. But while those objections were dismissed easily in 2017, Republican senators could, if they choose, drag the process out this year, and force the House and Senate to vote on individual points.

Here's a breakdown of what will take place on Jan. 6:

  • Electoral votes are counted in Congress.
  • Members of the House and the Senate will meet in the House chamber. The President of the Senate — that's Vice President Mike Pence — will preside over the session and the electoral votes will be read and counted in alphabetical order by two appointees each from the House and Senate.
  • They will then give their tallies to Pence, who will announce the results and listen for objections.
  • If there are objections, 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 to a majority — that's 270 — then the 435 members of the House decide the election. Each state gets a vote. So while there are more Democrats in the House, Republicans, as of now, control more state delegations, so it is possible the House could pick Trump even though there is a Democratic majority.
  • The House has until noon on January 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.