The latest on Biden's transition

By Veronica Rocha and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 5:01 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020
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3:59 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Biden says Trump's plan to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine is "falling far behind"

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater on December 29 in Wilmington, Delaware. 
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater on December 29 in Wilmington, Delaware.  Pool

President-elect Joe Biden said today the Trump administration's plan to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine is "falling far behind."

Biden said he was "grateful" to all who worked to develop the vaccines "quickly" but added that the plan to distribute it "is not progressing as it should."

"A few weeks ago, the Trump administration suggested that 20 million Americans could be vaccinated by the end of December. With only a few days left in December, we've only vaccinated a few million so far," he said. 

Biden added that at the pace the program is moving now "it's going to take years, not months" to vaccinate the US population.

3:58 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Biden says he will use Defense Production Act to boost vaccine effort

President-elect Joe Biden said he will "spare no effort to make sure people get vaccinated" once he takes office in January.

Biden said that he is going to make sure "100 million shots have been administered by the end of the first 100 days."

"Congress provides the funding, we'd be able to meet this incredible goal. It would take ramping up five to six times the current pace to 1 million shots a day," Biden said during a Covid-19 briefing in Delaware this afternoon. "But even with that improvement, even if we boost the speed of vaccinations to 1 million shots a day, it will still take months to have the majority of the United States population vaccinated."

Biden added: "I'm going to use my power under the Defense Production Act when I'm sworn and order private industry to accelerate making the materials needed for the vaccines as well as protective gear."

3:52 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Biden says he remains "optimistic about our future" as the US struggles through the pandemic

President-elect Joe Biden shared words of encouragement for Americans as the country continues to struggle through the coronavirus pandemic.

"As we end one of the most difficult years as a nation, I remain optimistic about our future. The vaccines have been discovered and developed. There's more to come, we believe. Give us enormous hope. Our economy is poised to come back and come alive. I can see a return to normalcy in the next year. I also see incredible opportunities for our nation in the years ahead," Biden said while delivering remarks this afternoon from Wilmington, Delaware.

Some context: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN today the US is in a coronavirus surge that has "just gotten...out of control in many respects."

He said the recent holiday travel period could make January even worse than December.

3:52 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Biden delivers remarks on the coronavirus pandemic and vaccine effort

From CNN's Arlette Saenz and Kate Sullivan

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater on December 29 in Wilmington, Delaware. 
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at the Queen Theater on December 29 in Wilmington, Delaware.  Pool

President-elect Joe Biden is delivering remarks this afternoon on the coronavirus pandemic as the country battles a surge in new cases and races to distribute vaccines.

A transition official told CNN he will confront the slower-than-expected pace at which the Trump administration is administering coronavirus vaccines during his remarks.

The President-elect "will address the current Administration falling short on its pace for vaccinations" and lay out his own plan for vaccinating people in a quick way, a transition official said.

The remarks will come after Biden receives a briefing from his Covid-19 advisory team, the official said, and the President-elect will also give a general status update on the pandemic and the stakes in the months ahead.

12:40 p.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Biden team and Department of Defense continue to clash over transition "roadblocks" and "obstruction"

From CNN's MJ Lee

President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Queen Theater on December 28 in Wilmington, Delaware. 
President-elect Joe Biden delivers remarks at the Queen Theater on December 28 in Wilmington, Delaware.  Mark Makela/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden publicly sounded the alarm on Monday over what he referred to as “obstruction” coming from some parts of the Trump government during the transition process – particularly, the Department of Defense.  

Biden advisers tell CNN that it is critical for the transition team to have a full understanding of the department of defense’s operations, including on major issues including Covid-19, cyber security, and the budget.  

Their overarching concern – which Biden made clear in his speech in Wilmington on Monday – is that a lack of cooperation from the Trump administration now could have serious implications for the country’s national security and the welfare of service members both during the transition period and well beyond it into Biden’s presidency. 

One area where the Biden team and the Defense Department have clashed in recent days is on the issue of transition meetings. One source familiar with the situation had said on Monday that the Defense Department continues to “deny and delay” meetings, and that none have taken place since Dec. 18. However, the Defense Department has insisted that many meetings have taken place since then. 

Presented with several examples of meetings that were cited by the Defense Department, a person familiar said that as of Monday, there has not been a single meeting that has fallen under the scope of the mutually agreed upon Memorandum of Understanding between the Biden transition and the Trump administration. 

The Defense Department also said there are now three meetings scheduled for this week – two on Covid-19 and one on cyber security. A Biden transition official did not dispute the Defense Department’s account that those meetings are set to take place this week.  

11:43 a.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris receives her first dose of the coronavirus vaccine

Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received her first dose of Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine live on television today.

"I want to encourage everyone to get the vaccine. It is relatively painless. It happens really quickly. It is safe," she said immediately after receiving the vaccine at United Medical Center in Washington, DC.

"It's literally about saving lives. I trust the scientists. And it is the scientists who created and approved this vaccine. So I urge everyone, when it is your turn, get vaccinated. It's about saving your life, the life of your family members and the life of your community," Harris added.

She said her husband, Doug Emhoff, will also receive the vaccine today.

The vice president-elect's vaccination comes just over one week after President-elect Joe Biden received his live on national television. After getting the shot, Biden reassured Americans of the vaccine's safety and urged them to get vaccinated as soon as the shots became available to them.

Biden and Harris staggered their vaccinations at the recommendation of medical experts, according to transition spokesperson Jen Psaki. The reason for such a recommendation could be that if Biden and Harris reported any side effects, such as a headache or fever, they would not experience them on the same day.


9:25 a.m. ET, December 29, 2020

Congress has the final vote in the 2020 election next week. Here's what you need to know.

From CNN's Zachary B. Wolf and Will Mullery

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Voters voted. States counted the votes. Challenges were heard and rejected. The Electoral College made President-elect Joe Biden's victory completely official.

The time for President Trump's repeated baseless allegations of fraud is over, but that doesn't mean the drama has ended. Lawmakers follow an archaic timeline set out the Constitution and US law to make Biden president.

Just as then-Vice President Biden oversaw the counting of electoral votes that gave 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 the vote tally that officially makes Biden the winner. Read more about that here.

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 next Wednesday, 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 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.

8:37 a.m. ET, December 29, 2020

There will be no inaugural luncheon for Biden on Capitol Hill due to Covid

From CNN's Lauren Fox

There will be no inaugural luncheon for President-elect Joe Biden on Capitol Hill due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. 

JCCIC consulted with the Presidential Inaugural Committee in making the decision.

"The health and safety of all guests attending the ceremonies has remained a top priority throughout the planning process. In light of the ongoing pandemic, the JCCIC, in consultation with the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has made the decision to not move forward with hosting the traditional inaugural luncheon," the statement said.

CNN had reported a luncheon was unlikely, but this makes it official.

9:23 a.m. ET, December 29, 2020

In final sprint to Georgia runoff election, Democrats are closing in on GOP ad spending

From CNN's David Wright and Rachel Janfaza

Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

With only days to go until the Jan. 5th Georgia Senate runoff elections, Democrats have begun closing in on what was previously a pronounced GOP ad spending advantage in the state.

Ad spending is up to nearly $540 million overall for the consequential elections that will determine which party has control of the Senate. Republicans lead Democrats in total Georgia ad spending, including reservations since Nov. 10 and through the runoff by about $281.7 million to $256.6 million.

The Democrats have raised money almost entirely through the strength of candidate advertising — Jon Ossoff has spent over $100 million in ads, while Rev. Raphael Warnock is at nearly $90 million, compared to about $53.7 million spent by Sen. Kelly Loeffler and $45.7 million for Sen. David Perdue, the Republican candidates. 

The campaigns and outside sponsors wasted little time to influence the two crucial contests after Perdue and Loeffler failed to hit the 50% threshold on Election Day, setting up elections against their Democratic challengers Jan. 5.

When it comes to spending by outside groups on behalf of the candidates for Senate themselves, Republicans lead Democrats by nearly 3-to-1 — $180.5 million to $63.1 million.

Major outside GOP donors include American Crossroads — the Republican super PAC founded by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, Senate Leadership Fund —a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican — and Peachtree PAC, which despite the name suggesting homegrown roots, is an arm of the Senate Leadership Fund.

Read more here.