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Biden, Pelosi, Schumer Plan “Intensifying” COVID-19 Response

WASHINGTON (AP) — Joe Biden has spoken with the top two Democrats in Congress — but not their Republican counterparts yet.

Biden’s transition team announced Thursday that he spoke by phone with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, thanking them for their congratulations and expressing “his commitment to uniting the country after a hard-fought campaign.”

The three spoke about “intensifying” the country’s coronavirus response and coping with the economic fallout the pandemic has inflected.

They also discussed the “urgent need” to use the lame duck congressional session to approve bills on slowing the spread of COVID-19, as well as economic relief for “working families and small businesses, support for state and local governments trying to keep front-line workers on the payroll,” expanded unemployment

insurance and expanded access to affordable health care.
Biden said Tuesday that he had not spoken to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, though the two have been friends for years.
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HERE’S WHAT MORE ON  JOE BIDEN’S ACTIVITIES:

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Biden says he’s not worried that President Donald Trump has broken with tradition by not letting him read the ultra-secret daily brief containing the nation’s most sensitive intelligence before inauguration.

Biden says he can’t make national security decisions yet anyway so he doesn’t need it.
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Joe Biden is heading to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, for some time with his family for his first break from transition work since he became president-elect last weekend.

The Bidens own a vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, a small beach town about 90 miles from his house in Wilmington. It’s a favorite retreat of the Bidens, and the president-elect has returned there to mull over major decisions in the past.

He spent time holed up in his Rehoboth home in August, while he considered his vice presidential pick.

Biden is not expected to have public events until at least Saturday night, when he returns to Wilmington, though aides say he’s expected to continue private transition meetings.

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Biden’s transition work continued this week, with the announcement of his agency landing teams, groups of staff and volunteers tasked with gathering information at the federal agencies to help smooth the transition of power. Biden is expected also to review options for top-level staff and Cabinet appointees in the coming weeks.
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Biden has spoken by phone with Pope Francis as he continues to talk with leaders around the world.

Biden’s campaign said in a statement that the president-elect thanked the pontiff for “extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation” for Francis’ “leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world.”

Biden also said he’d like to work with the pope to further “a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants.”

Biden is just the second Catholic to be elected president in U.S. history, and the first after John F. Kennedy. He has spoken openly about the importance of faith in his life and attends Mass near his home in Wilmington, Delaware, nearly every week.

Biden has spoken this week with several foreign leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
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Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Lewandowski recently traveled to Pennsylvania to assist Trump’s efforts to contest the state’s election results. He said Thursday he believes he was infected in Philadelphia and he’s not experiencing any symptoms.

Lewandowski appeared with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani at an event last Saturday outside a landscaping company and lobbed unfounded accusations of voter fraud as the race was called for Trump’s challenger, now-President-elect Joe Biden.

Lewandowski was also at the election night party at the White House last week linked to several virus cases.

Numerous White House and campaign officials have tested positive in this latest wave of infections, including Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Republican and Democratic election officials nationwide have said publicly the election went well. International observers confirm there were no serious irregularities.
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The group of prominent former leaders founded by Nelson Mandela says President Donald Trump’s continued assertions of election fraud without any compelling evidence convey “a lack or respect” for the integrity of U.S. institutions and “could have far-reaching consequences.”

The group is known as The Elders. It said Thursday in a statement Trump “should follow the example set by his predecessors and declare himself willing to accept the verdict cast” by voters.

Former Irish president Mary Robinson chairs The Elders and says it’s “shocking to have to raise concerns about U.S. democratic processes” as the group has done in Kenya, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

The group calls on Republican leaders “to act responsibly in the interests of their country by supporting a smooth transition” to Democrat Joe Biden’s presidency.

Trump has insisted without evidence the election was stolen from him even though Republican and Democratic election officials nationwide have said publicly the election went well and international observers confirm there were no serious irregularities.
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Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who was just reelected in South Carolina, says he’s donating $1 million of his campaign money to help two GOP senators win runoff races in neighboring Georgia.

Graham told Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on Thursday that Republicans need to counter a “tsunami of liberal money” flowing into Georgia ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff elections, which will determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate. Democrats already control the House, and Democrat Joe Biden is the president-elect after beating President Donald Trump in their White House contest.

In the Georgia runoffs, Democrat Jon Ossoff is looking to unseat Republican Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Raphael Warnock is facing off against Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

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