Former Vice President Joe Biden will become the 46th president of the United States after his victory over President Donald Trump. Biden was able to rebuild the "blue wall" by winning Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and is leading in Georgia which had not voted for a Democrat since 1992.
As ballots continue to be counted, Biden has received over 77.5 million votes, the highest in history. Trump has received over 72.3 million votes. Even in losing Trump received more votes for president than anyone else in history except for Biden. This election had the highest percentage of voter turnout since 1908.
Kamala Harris will be the first female and woman of color to serve as vice president. Also, she is the daughter of immigrants. With her election, California Gov. Gavin Newsom will name her replacement in the Senate.
Trump has refused to concede, and his campaign has and continues to pursue lawsuits claiming election irregularities and fraud in five states where Biden leads. So far judges say the campaign has not provided any evidence to back up their claims. This could continue into December. The Elections Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council (state and federal election officials) in a statement yesterday say, "There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."
Biden moving forward with transition
Biden is moving forward with his transition as he addresses the coronavirus pandemic, economy, White House staffing and cabinet appointments.
Biden has named Ron Klain to be his White House chief of staff. Klain served as chief of staff in Biden's first term as vice president. Additional White House staff members will be named in the coming days. Cabinet members are expected to be named in December.
Biden's first action was naming a bipartisan coronavirus working group of physicians and health and medical experts to address the pandemic as the nation and states report record numbers of cases and deaths. Numbers are expected to become worse in the coming weeks.
In a statement on the task force Biden says, "Dealing with the coronavirus pandemic is one of most important battles our administration will face, and I will be informed by science and by experts. The advisory board will help shape my approach to managing the surge in reported infections; ensuring vaccines are safe, effective and distributed efficiently, equitable, and free; and protecting at-risk populations."
Biden named members of the various transition teams who will begin to review federal departments and agencies. Trump has ordered his administration not to cooperate with the Biden transition teams. This will severely impact the ability for a smooth transition as has been the practice of previous presidents.
USDA transition team
Biden named members of the USDA transition team, some of who have previously worked at USDA.
Robert Bonnie of Duke University will serve as team leader. He previously served as undersecretary of Natural Resources during the Obama administration. A member known to many in agricultural policy is Johnathan Coppess, an assistant professor of agricultural economics at the University of Illinois. Coppess previously served as general counsel of the Senate Agriculture Committee and was administrator of the Farm Service Agency during Obama's first term.
Others serving are Nicholas Anthis, University of California; Sanah Baig, The Good Food Institute; Brooke Barron, Office of the Speaker, Maine State Legislature; Kumar Chandran, Food Corps; Andrea Delgado, UFS Foundation; Debra Eschmeyer, Arizona State University; Meryl Harrell, Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards; LaQuita Honeysucker, The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union; John Padalino, Bandera Electric Cooperative Inc.; Gregory Parham, USDA (retired); Lisa Pino, New York Department of Health; Amy Pitelka, Barker Pitelka PLLC; Jeffrey Prieto, Los Angeles Community College District; Audrey Rowe, self-employed; and Corey Then, Moneta Group.
Lame-duck session begins
With the House and Senate both in session next week, they will begin focusing on items that need to be completed by Dec. 31. Finishing fiscal year appropriations bills is at the top of the list. The current continuing resolution expires Dec. 11. Congress must pass another short-term CR or fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year to avoid a government shutdown.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have both said they want to pass another coronavirus relief package. The problem is reaching an agreement on cost and items that would be included. Pelosi wants a broad relief package and McConnell is insisting on a narrow, more targeted approach. The other question is will Trump be willing to consider a proposal now that the election is over.
The Livestock Mandatory Report Act expires Dec. 11. It is expected LMR will be reauthorized for the same period of time as the appropriations bill.
117th Congress: Senate leadership will remain
The Senate leadership will remain the same next Congress. The Republican and Democratic caucuses held their leadership elections this week with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continuing as the Republican leader and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) as the Republican Whip and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) remaining as the Democratic leader and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) as the Democratic Whip.