Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris on their victory, one day after the electoral college voted in state capitals across the country.
The remarks by McConnell (R-Ky.) came as Biden traveled to Georgia, where he campaigned for the two Democratic Senate candidates competing in runoff elections. “The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself. So let’s choose hope over fear, unity over division, science over fiction and yes, truth over lies,” Biden said in a “get-out-the-vote” appeal. The races will determine which party controls the Senate when Biden takes office.
Meanwhile, Biden plans to nominate former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg for transportation secretary, elevating a formal rival for the Democratic nomination to a key Cabinet position, according to three people familiar with the decision.
Here’s what to know:
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico and Russian President Vladimir Putin both congratulated Biden on his victory, weeks after many other foreign leaders did the same.
Biden is nominating Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan who has been a strong voice for zero-emissions vehicles, as secretary of energy, two people familiar with the process said Tuesday.
Granholm, 61 and currently an adjunct professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley, has argued that the United States risks being left behind by other countries if it does not develop alternative energy technologies. Her pick is a clear sign that Biden wants the department to play an important role in combating climate change.
Arun Majumdar, a materials scientist and engineer who led a new research agency within the Energy Department during the Obama administration, is reportedly under consideration as deputy secretary. Majumdar, who has been working for the Biden transition team and was considered a candidate for the top energy post, is an advocate of modernizing the nation’s electricity grid.
Biden has tapped Gina McCarthy, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under President Barack Obama and now leads a major advocacy group, to coordinate the new administration’s domestic climate agenda from a senior perch at the White House.
Three individuals familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision had not been publicly announced, confirmed that the final decision had been made to pick McCarthy for the post.
McCarthy is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which has sued the Trump administration more than 100 times, successfully overturning its attempts to delay energy efficiency rules and protections for threatened species.
McCarthy, 66, who spearheaded the Obama administration’s efforts to curb greenhouse gases from power plants and vehicles, will be responsible for implementing Biden’s plan to weave climate policy throughout the federal government. Ali Zaidi, 33, New York’s deputy secretary for energy and environment, will be her deputy.
Activist groups on Tuesday organized a car caravan that drove past Biden’s campaign headquarters and through downtown Wilmington, Del., in an effort to push the president-elect to take action on comprehensive immigration reform during his first 100 days in office.
Participants came from seven states and the District of Columbia, organizers said. They included groups such as Make the Road Action, CASA in Action, DelACA, the Center for Popular Democracy Action and FIRM Action.
“The role of the immigrant, Puerto Rican, and Black community in electing Biden-Harris is undeniable,” Gustavo Torres, president of CASA in Action, said in a statement. “Now, we forge ahead to claim what we have fought for and work closely with the new administration for a package benefiting communities of color, one that recognizes the hard work accomplished even during the worst of the Trump administration.”
The groups are pressing Biden to reverse “hundreds” of Trump’s immigration policies, issue a moratorium on deportations and advance a path to citizenship for undocumented people, as well as overhaul the criminal justice system and cancel Puerto Rico’s debt.
Biden responded to the groups in a letter in which he thanked the activists for their work and told them, “I welcome your advice and I am ready to partner with you in the weeks, months and years ahead.”
Latinos are a broad group that encompasses a lot of political and ethnic diversity. While Biden won Latino voters in November by a roughly 2-to-1 margin nationwide, similar to Hillary Clinton’s margin in 2016, exit polling shows Trump made gains among Latinos in two key states — Florida and Texas — where they make up a large share of voters.
Chris Alcantara contributed to this report.
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Iowa Republicans call on House leadership to reject Democratic candidate’s effort to contest election results
Iowa’s two Republican senators and incoming GOP House members are calling on House leadership to reject Democrat Rita Hart’s effort to contest the election results in the state’s 2nd Congressional District.
Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R) won by six votes over Hart, according to the state-certified results. But Hart is continuing to challenge the result, asking the House Administration Committee to review the election and potentially count additional ballots under the Federal Contested Elections Act.
In a letter Tuesday, Sens. Joni Ernst and Charles E. Grassley, and Reps.-elect Ashley Hinson and Randy Feenstra said Hart is asking the House to set a “dangerous precedent” by overturning the will of Iowa voters.
“Iowans rightly have confidence in the integrity of our state’s election officials and process. Any action to bypass or overturn a fair election conducted according to Iowa law would not be well received by the citizens of our state and would result in a cloud over the results of such efforts,” they wrote.
Pending the results in New York’s 22nd District, where officials are retallying the votes, and Iowa, Democrats have won 222 House seats — just four more than the bare majority of 218.
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Doug Emhoff makes surprise appearance on call with Jewish Biden-Harris supporters
The call was billed by the Biden transition team as a celebration of Hanukkah and an update on Biden’s and Harris’s transition activities.
“You know, one of the true joys of my own modern blended family has been sharing our different faith and family traditions, and Hanukkah is one I love most of all,” Emhoff, who is Jewish, said on the call.
He told supporters that he is “honored” and “humbled to be in this position,” and urged them to continue to stay engaged as the administration takes office.
He added: “This holiday season is the perfect time to take some time to decompress, reflect and most importantly reconnect with loved ones, even if it’s only remotely, like I know we’re all doing. … It’s so important that we continue to follow the science, follow the guidelines, especially right now.”
Emhoff was introduced by Jonathan and Lauren Berkun, husband-and-wife rabbis who hosted Emhoff in September at a roundtable in Florida.
Jonathan Berkun described Emhoff as “a mensch” whose participation in the September event “helped him to find his legs that he spent subsequent months schlepping around the country as a very strong surrogate for Joe and Kamala.”
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Analysis: Trump took the nation in the wrong direction on cybersecurity, experts say
Trump took the nation in the wrong direction on cybersecurity, according to a solid majority of experts polled by The Cybersecurity 202, a Washington Post newsletter.
During his four years in office, Trump failed to hold adversaries, including Russia, accountable for hacking U.S. targets, removed experienced cyber-defenders from their posts for petty reasons and undermined much of the good work being done on cybersecurity within federal agencies, according to 71 percent of respondents to the Network, a panel of more than 100 cybersecurity experts who participate in our ongoing informal survey.
The latest survey concluded before news broke about probably the most significant breach of the Trump administration: a hack linked to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR, that infected at least five federal agencies — the Commerce, Treasury, Homeland Security and State departments as well as the National Institutes of Health — and probably several others, as well as foreign governments and companies across the globe.
At a rally in Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon, Biden took aim at Georgia’s Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, over their support for a Texas lawsuit that would have overturned the president-elect’s win in their own and three other swing states.
The lawsuit, filed by the Texas attorney general and backed by more than half of the House Republican conference, was dismissed by the Supreme Court last week.
“Your two Republican senators fully embraced what Texas was telling the Supreme Court. They fully embraced nullifying nearly 5 million Georgia votes. You might want to remember that come January 5th,” Biden told the crowd at the drive-in rally, referring to the date of Georgia’s Senate runoff election.
The president-elect went on to ridicule Loeffler and Perdue over the lawsuit.
“I’ll try to be generous here, in the spirit of the season,” he said. “Maybe your senators were just confused. Maybe they think they represent Texas. Well, if you want to do the bidding of Texas, you should be running in Texas! Not in Georgia. Because you know what? You’ve got a couple of folks running for the United States Senate in this state who aren’t confused at all.”
“Jon Ossoff. Raphael Warnock. They’re running to represent Georgia,” Biden added, slowly enunciating the name of the state. “Georgia.”
Biden joked about having prevailed in the state’s multiple recounts, telling the crowd, “I’m starting to feel like I won Georgia three times!”
And he urged voters to cast their ballots for Ossoff and Warnock, who are vying against Perdue and Loeffler, respectively, on Jan. 5. Early voting in the Senate runoff elections began Monday.
“The only thing that can tear America apart is America itself,” Biden said as he concluded his remarks. “So let’s choose hope over fear, unity over division, science over fiction, and yes, truth over lies. It’s time to stand up and take back our democracy. Send me these two men, and we will control the Senate, and we will change the lives of people in Georgia.”
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Analysis: New poll is a warning sign for the GOP in Georgia
Ever since Trump launched his baseless voter fraud campaign, Republican strategists have fretted about it potentially hurting GOP turnout in the all-important Georgia Senate runoffs. If Republicans have no confidence that their votes will be counted accurately, the logic goes, might they just stay home? Adding to their concern is that two lawyers pushing Trump’s claims, L. Lin Wood and Sidney Powell, have urged Republicans to withhold their votes if Georgia’s GOP leaders don’t act to overturn the state’s results for Trump.
This has been a largely theoretical exercise. But a new poll suggests there might indeed be some peril in this whole exercise for Republicans.
As chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Johnson plans a hearing with Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who led the investigation of President Bill Clinton that resulted in his impeachment in 1998. Also testifying are three Republicans who tried to overturn the election results and Christopher Krebs, the first director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Trump fired Krebs on Nov. 17 after he refuted the president’s claims of widespread election fraud.
In the interview, Johnson defended the hearing — being held two days after the electoral college officially declared Biden the winner.
“All I’m trying to do is hold a very upfront, straightforward hearing talking about what controls there are in place, what fraud does occur, what can we do to prevent fraud in the future,” the senator said.
Johnson also said in the interview that, at this time, he has no plans to challenge the slate of electors when Congress counts the votes next month.
“Something would have to surface that would call into question the legitimacy of the election,” he said.
McConnell privately urges GOP senators not to challenge electoral college count for Biden next month
McConnell is urging Senate Republicans not to join any House GOP lawmaker in challenging the electoral college results officially declaring Biden as the winner when Congress counts the votes Jan. 6.
In a private conference call Tuesday, McConnell and other members of the Senate GOP leadership made the plea, according to a person familiar with the call who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk frankly.
Biden was officially declared the winner Monday with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232, and McConnell congratulated the Democrat on Tuesday morning.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said they were encouraged on the GOP call “to accept the result as much as it’s not what we, you know, would have envisioned for the next four years and to try to do what’s best for the American people, which is to look forward … There wasn’t any pushback to it. There wasn’t anybody saying, ‘Oh, wait a minute.’ ”
However, some House Republicans, including Rep. Mo Brooks (Ala.), are planning to challenge a slate of electors when the House and the Senate meet in a joint session next month to count the votes. Brooks needs a Republican senator to join him, a move that would trigger closed-door debates and votes in both chambers, force lawmakers to go on the record and delay the inevitable. Such a vote would fail in the Democratic-led House and meet resistance in the Senate.
Biden is poised to be sworn in as the 46th president on Jan. 20.
Biden to name Pete Buttigieg as transportation secretary
Biden will nominate Pete Buttigieg to be his secretary of transportation, elevating his onetime rival to a key role in the incoming administration’s push to rebuild American infrastructure and the economy, according to three people familiar with the decision.
The former mayor of South Bend, Ind., dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed Biden at a critical moment in March ahead of the Super Tuesday primaries. Shortly afterward, an emotional Biden compared the former intelligence officer for the Navy Reserve, who served a tour in Afghanistan, to his son Beau, who died of brain cancer at age 46.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Tuesday declined to acknowledge that Biden is president-elect, one day after the electoral college voted to affirm his victory.
“The president is still involved in ongoing litigation related to the election,” McEnany said at a news briefing Tuesday afternoon. “Yesterday’s vote is one step in the constitutional process. So I will leave that to him and refer you to the campaign for more on that litigation.”
Asked whether Trump has any plans to invite Biden to the White House, McEnany declined to say.
McEnany also said she has not yet spoken with Trump about Sen. Mitch McConnell’s floor speech earlier Tuesday, in which the Senate majority leader congratulated Biden and called him president-elect. And she said she was unaware whether McConnell had given Trump advance notice about his remarks.
“I’m not sure if he had any call with him prior to making that statement,” McEnany told reporters.
Maryland’s Hogan to serve as co-chairman of No Labels, a national bipartisan organization
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is trying to raise his national profile ahead of a possible 2024 White House bid, will co-chair a bipartisan political organization that is mounting a new push for centrist policies in Congress.
Hogan, a Republican, will join former senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut, in leading No Labels, which supports the Problem Solvers Caucus in the House.
“I am honored to help lead No Labels at a time when our message of putting aside partisan differences for the common good is needed more than ever,” Hogan said in a statement. “Amid this awful pandemic, the people in my state and across our country are desperate for leaders to work across the aisle and focus on solving the urgent problems we face.”
Biden said Tuesday that he had spoken to McConnell and that they had a “good conversation.”
Speaking with reporters before boarding a plane to Atlanta, where he plans to campaign for the pair of Georgia Senate candidates, Biden said he had reached out after McConnell delivered remarks on the Senate floor acknowledging his electoral college victory.
“I had a good conversation with Mitch McConnell today,” Biden said. “I called him to thank him for the congratulations.”
Biden said that while he and McConnell disagree on many issues, he’s optimistic that they will be able to work together.
“We’ve always been straight with one another,” said Biden, who worked with McConnell during his days as vice president and as a senator from Delaware. “We agreed we’d get together sooner than later. I’m looking forward to working with him.”
Biden also said he had talked to other Senate members and would share more about those conversations later.
McConnell’s office confirmed the conversation took place but did not offer details.
Biden also said that Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, had recommended that he get vaccinated for the coronavirus “sooner than later.”
“When I do it, you’ll have notice, and we’ll do it publicly,” Biden said.