Here is a summary of the top 5 political issues making headlines today.
1. Biden names chief of staff, focuses on transition
In naming Ron Klain as his chief of staff, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden picked a person who served in a similar position during part of his vice presidency and one who knows a lot about dealing with health emergencies.
“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again,” Biden said of Klain, who had been his chief of staff during the first two years Barack Obama was president.
Klain, who also served as the Obama administration’s Ebola czar in 2014 and 2015, called the appointment an “honor of a lifetime,” as he prepares to lead a staff that will make dealing with a covid-19 pandemic a top priority.
While Biden continued to work on his transition efforts Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump made technology the latest target of his unsubstantiated claims about the election being stolen from him.
Trump retweeted a post about votes being electronically switched or manufactured that had no grounding in reality.
While the lawsuits the Trump team has filed regarding the election have gone nowhere, that has not stopped the president’s supporters from preparing for what they bill as the “Million MAGA March” in Washington on Saturday.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News Thursday she expected the turnout to be “quite large.”
A counter protest called “F— MAGA” has also been planned to happen nearby.
d. The Administration’s Response to Ebola – The White House Archives
2. Push on to give Biden access to intel info
The tide seems to be slowly turning on U.S. President Donald Trump’s efforts to keep his elected successor from doing what he needs to do to best take over on January 21.
On Thursday, Republican Senators John Thune of South Dakota, Charles Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally of Trump’s, said the administration should stop refusing to give President-elect Joe Biden access to daily intelligence briefings that are usually given to an incoming commander-in-chief.
“I don’t think they need to know everything,” Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, said of Biden’s advisers. “I think they do need to know some things, and national security would be one of them.”
On Wednesday, Senator James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, told a local radio station that he would intervene as soon as Friday if Trump administration appointees did not begin sharing intelligence information with Biden.
The president-elect had said that access to classified information would be “nice to have, but it’s not critical.”
“Access to classified information is useful, but I won’t make any decisions on those issues anyway. As I said, there’s one president at a time,” Biden said on Tuesday.
a. Biden would revamp fraying intel community – Politico
3. Stalemated still on more stimulus for Americans
It remains in doubt whether Americans will get a little extra money for Christmas shopping by way of another coronavirus stimulus bill before Congress adjourns for the annual recess.
Although the pandemic is continuing to upend life in much of America with more than 247,000 deaths and 10.8 million cases, lawmakers are stalemated on providing further relief.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Chuck Schumer, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, said they have no plans to budge on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief measure.
On Thursday, their fellow Democrat and U.S. President-elect Joe Biden weighed in, agreeing with the two lawmakers on “the urgent need for the Congress to come together in the lame-duck session on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill that provides resources to fight the covid-19 pandemic.”
Standing in their way is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. He favors a bill costing about $500 billion.
“I gather [Pelosi] and the Democratic leader in the Senate still are looking at something dramatically larger. That’s not a place I think we’re willing to go,” McConnell said. “But I do think there needs to be another package. Hopefully we can get past the impasse we’ve had now for four or five months and get serious.”
4. Warren pushes progressive causes in oped
It has been reported that she wants the treasury secretary job, but in an opinion piece in The Washington Post, Elizabeth Warren pushed the progressive agenda.
The Democratic U.S. senator from Massachusetts and former presidential candidate urged incoming President Joe Biden and his administration to cancel billions of dollars in student loan debt and raise the minimum wage for federal contractors to $15 an hour as well as work to lower drug prices.
Warren also said the climate change issue should be declared “a national emergency” and resources dedicated to it should reflect that.
“Bold policies to improve opportunity for all Americans are broadly popular. Voters recognize that these reforms are necessary to fix what is broken in our nation…,” Warren wrote in The Post.
“Instead of allowing insiders to hijack the message sent by voters in both parties, we should listen to those voters and deliver real solutions to the problems we face. Doing so won’t just strengthen the Democratic Party. It will strengthen America.”
b. Progressives are betting on Biden leaning into their agenda – New York Post
5. First VP of color not Harris, but Charles Curtis
It was the kind of distinction that many news organizations failed to make when proclaiming U.S. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris the first this and the first that.
Yes, she will be the first female, first African American as well as the first South Asian to hold the second highest office in the United States.
Curtis served in that position under Herbert Hoover from 1929 to 1933. His mother was a Native American who belonged to the Kaw Nation, and he was raised by his maternal grandparents on a reservation
Curtis’s father was white. He left after Curtis’s mother died when he was 3, The Post reported.
Curtis would become a winning jockey in his youth. He represented Kansas in the U.S. House and was appointed to the Senate in 1907.
In the 1920s, Curtis became the Senate majority leader.
His time as vice president was marred by the Great Depression and he and Hoover were voted out of office after one term.