Biden also recognizes that the pandemic has “laid bare some unacceptable truths. Even before COVID-19, too many families were struggling to make ends meet. […] And, Black and Latino Americans, Native Americans, immigrants, and women have never been welcomed as full participants in the economy.” Getting McConnell on board with an agenda to help all these families will be a challenge, unless he looks at the election results in Georgia and decides that finally acting on the pandemic might save his two Republican Senate seats in that state—both going to a January 5 run-off—and save his Senate majority.
Biden is moving ahead with his transition and his response to the coronavirus crisis, even if the Trump administration is refusing to acknowledge that Trump is the loser. The Trump-appointed head of the General Services Administration so far won’t take the necessary action to allow Biden’s team the transition resources—funding, office space, equipment—to which it’s entitled.
But what Biden can do is use his win and the bully pulpit he now has to the American people and governors and mayors about the need for mask mandates to fight the pandemic. “If a governor declines, he’ll go to the mayors in the state and ask them to lead,” an adviser with the Biden team told NBC. “In many states, there is the capacity of mayors to institute mandates.” Biden will use his playroom to “fill the void” the administration has left, the Biden adviser said, to talk about the need for social distancing and masks.
So much of getting actual concrete help to a desperate nation, as always, depends on McConnell and whether any Senate Republican will stand up to him. McConnell needs first of all to tell Trump to give it up, to concede. There are a few Republican senators who are acknowledging that reality. Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney congratulated Biden and Harris this weekend. Missouri’s Sen. Roy Blunt said on This Week on ABC Sunday that it “seems unlikely” that election results are going to change in Trump’s favor, and “It’s time for the president’s lawyers to present the facts.” He chairs the bipartisan committee that plans presidential inaugurations, and said “We’re moving forward, anticipating an outside, full-scale inauguration that’s easier to scale back than to scale up.”