President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are moving ahead with planning for his forthcoming administration on Sunday, launching a transition website and preparing a team of people to begin working with federal agencies this week.
A transition official told CNN that, despite President Donald Trump rejecting the election results and fighting them with legal claims, work to prepare for a Biden administration “continues full speed today.”
Biden’s website, BuildBackBetter.com, after posting a minimal version earlier in the week, now includes four “administration priorities” for the incoming presidency: Covid-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change.
The official said that agency review teams, groups of Biden aides tasked to each federal agency, will begin their work this week, “gaining access to federal agencies at the appropriate point.” It is unclear if that access will be given as Trump denies the election results.
“Across the board we will continue laying the foundation for the incoming Biden-Harris administration to successfully restore faith and trust in our institutions and lead the federal government,” the official said.
The transition has also launched a series of social media channels on Sunday – @transition46 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The website lays out a seven-point plan to tackle the coronavirus, including “regular, reliable, and free testing” to all Americans, an ” effective, equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines” once available and working with governors and mayors to implement a nationwide mask mandate.
“The American people deserve an urgent, robust, and professional response to the growing public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak,” the website reads.
On racial equity, Biden and Harris lay out a range of economic plans to address inequality, but the most fulsome plans come on police reform, where the transition team say they will work with Congress to institute a “nationwide ban on chokeholds,” stop the “the transfer of weapons of war to police forces,” establish a “model use of force standard” and create a “national police oversight commission.”
“The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism,” the website reads. “To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.”
Biden plans to make the coronavirus his top priority during the transition, attempting to make good on a campaign issue that dominated the general election.
CNN previously reported that Biden is set to announce his own coronavirus task force Monday, an announcement that is meant to signify how seriously the president-elect plans to focus on a pandemic that has reached a record number of daily infections in the last week.
And it was clear on the new website how Biden’s transition views the economy and coronavirus as linked to one another.
To address a struggling economy, the transition plan says a Biden administration would “provide state, local, and tribal governments with the aid they need so educators, firefighters, and other essential workers aren’t being laid off” and “extend COVID crisis unemployment insurance to help those who are out of work.” The plan also says a Biden administration will look to start a Public Health Jobs Corps to immediately put people to work to combat the virus.
The process of preparing for a Biden administration has been underway for months. It is legally required, despite the outcome of a presidential election being unclear, and ensures that if a transfer of power is needed, it will be possible to stand up a federal government in the less than three months between Election Day and Inauguration Day.
Biden’s team began work over the summer, growing to at least 150 people before November 3. A source familiar with the transition planned has told CNN that the effort could get as large as 300 people before the inauguration.
The stakes of the transition are high, given the ongoing pandemic and the economic downturn because of the virus, and the possibility that Trump declining to concede could mean less time for a fulsome transition between the two administrations. Trump has already broken protocol: It is traditional for the incumbent president to invite the election winner to the White House to discuss a range of issues, including the transition.
Even still, Biden’s transition team has been working behind the scenes with the help of Trump officials – namely White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and deputy chief of staff for policy coordination Chris Liddell, both of whom have been working to prepare for the possible handover.
This story has been updated with additional details on the website.