President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet virtually with the bipartisan National Governors Association’s executive committee in Wilmington, Delaware, today.
The call is expected to focus on the coronavirus pandemic and be facilitated by the NGA in conjunction with the Biden transition team, an NGA spokesperson and Biden transition official said earlier this week.
“The governors are the ones who have been handling this war, frankly. Joe Biden wants to engage with them right away and I think that’s smart,” NGA chairman and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday during an appearance on MSNBC.
The executive committee group is made up of Cuomo, Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama, Governor Jared Polis of Colorado, Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico and Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah.
The call comes as the Trump administration continues to block the Biden transition, with the Biden team, public health, and national security experts sounding the alarm on the potential consequences.
More than 250,000 Americans have so far died of the virus — a higher death toll than any other country — and another 188,000 are projected to lose their lives over the next three and a half months, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. By mid-January, the IHME model predicts more than 2,100 Americans could be dying daily.
After the call with the governors, Biden and Harris will deliver remarks.
Another holiday tradition going on as planned is the arrival of the official White House Christmas Tree, which will be greeted by Melania Trump on Monday.
This year’s tree is from Oregon.
Yesterday, Bioreports reported that President Trump will pardon the annual Thanksgiving turkey at the White House on Tuesday.
The President — who has refused to concede he lost the election — has made just four official appearances since Nov. 3, and he’s only spoken publicly twice.
With exception of golf on the weekends, and a visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Veteran’s Day, he has not left the White House.
Several women who worked on Joe Biden’s campaign are being considered for top White House communications roles in the Biden-Harris administration, sources with knowledge of the deliberations tell Bioreports.
Karine Jean-Pierre, a senior adviser to Biden’s campaign who later served as chief of staff to Kamala Harris, and Symone Sanders, who served as a senior adviser to the campaign, are under consideration to become White House press secretary.
Kate Bedingfield, who served as deputy campaign manager and communications director, is being considered for White House communications director and press secretary.
No final decisions have been made yet and no announcements are expected this week for the roles, which are among the most visible in any administration. Biden pledged during the campaign to bring back the daily White House press briefing, which was scrapped under President Donald Trump’s administration.
Jean-Pierre is a name that has been recently added to the mix for the press secretary position. If she or Sanders were to assume the role, either would make history as the first Black woman to serve as White House press secretary.
Biden has begun building out his White House team, announcing several top key roles in the last week. Those announcements, which included two longtime advisers and his campaign manager for the general election, came just days after he tapped veteran Democratic operative Ron Klain as his chief of staff.
Biden has yet to announce any Cabinet positions but pledged repeatedly on the campaign trail and as the President-elect that he will form an administration that reflects the diversity of the country.
Read more here.
When it comes to health policy, President Trump made it his mission to undo many measures his predecessor put in place.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to do the same.
In their four years in office, the Trump administration made sweeping changes that affected the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid, abortion and transgender rights, in many cases reversing the efforts of the Obama administration.
Most of the measures were done through executive orders and regulation since it was tough to get any bills through Congress, particularly after the Democrats took control of the House after the 2018 midterm elections.
Biden’s health officials will likely be active, as well, but it will take time for all their actions to take effect.
“They don’t have a massive eraser pen. They’ve got to go through the rule-making process,” said Allison Orris, a former Obama administration official and counsel with Manatt Health, a professional services firm. “They are going to have to think about what comes first, second and third and be realistic about timing.”
Plus, the Biden administration may opt to keep and continue several Trump administration efforts, including shifting to value-based care, rather than paying doctors for every visit and procedure, and increasing access to telehealth, said Ian Spatz, senior adviser at Manatt.
The two administrations also share common views on some measures to lower drug pricing, including basing Medicare payments on the cost of prescription medications in other countries and importing drugs from abroad. But Trump officials have not actually put these proposals in place.
However, where the two administrations will differ significantly is messaging, Spatz said. While Trump focused on dismantling the Affordable Care Act, Biden will emphasize expanding the law and access to health coverage.
Read more about Trump health care measures the incoming Biden administration is expected to reverse.