Joe Biden Says New Covid-19 Stimulus Package Is “Very Close”; Wants Americans To Know Vaccine Is “Safe To Take”

Dominic Patten and Ted Johnson
·4 min read

A day after pledging to taking the coronavirus vaccine in public, Joe Biden on Wednesday sought to assure the public that the injections are truly good for them and help is coming from the federal government.

“We’re working on that right now,” the President-elect said today when asked when he would get the vaccine.

“I don’t want to get ahead of the line but I want to make sure that we demonstrate to the American people that it’s safe to take,” Biden added. “We’re working on that plan right now. And when I do it, I’ll do it publicly.”

As more and more frontline healthcare workers across the nation received a shot of the increasingly widely distributed Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the remarks from PEOTUS came this morning as Biden formally announced his ex-primary rival Pete Buttigieg as his pick for U.S. Transportation Secretary. Speaking from the Queen Theatre in snowy Wilmington, DE with the former South Bend mayor by his side and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris joining from DC by video, Biden told reporters he believed the Senate and House of Representatives would be sealing a deal on new relief for Americans battered economically by the pandemic.

“The stimulus package is encouraging,” Biden said of the proposed interim $900 million scheme.

“It looks like it’s very, very close and it looks like there are going to be direct payments,” Biden added. “But it’s a down payment. An important down payment that’s going to have to be done beginning in the end of January, in February, but it’s very important to get done and I compliment the bipartisan group on working together to get it done.”

If a deal is made on the latest relief bill, which a number of Hollywood power brokers have been pushing for, a vote on Capital Hill could occur in the next few days to get it to President Donald Trump’s desk for a signature.

To those looking at a hard Christmas without further help from the federal government, Biden’s words today may have overshadowed the Buttigieg announcement. However, it could not overshadow the historical nature of the pick. If confirmed, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay Senate-confirmed cabinet member, something Buttigieg noted during his speech.

He recalled being a teenager and watching the confirmation fight over James Hormel, an openly gay man President Bill Clinton nominated to be an ambassador. GOP opposition forced Clinton to make a recess appointment.

“At the time I had no aspirations to be appointed by a president to anything,” he said. “At that age I was hoping to be an airline pilot. And I was a long way from coming out, and still I watched that story and I learned something about some of the limits that exist in this country when it comes to who is allowed to belong. But just as important, I saw how those limits could be challenged.”

Buttigieg would head a department with more than 50,000 employees, roughly half the size of the population city he led, South Bend, IN. But he emphasized both his commitment and passion for transportation.

“Travel in my mind is synonymous with growth, with adventure, even love, so much so that I proposed to my husband Chasten in an airport terminal. Don’t let anybody tell you that O’Hare isn’t romantic.”

He also made light of what became a common joke in D.C.: promises by the Trump administration to do an infrastructure week, only to get upstaged by other presidential events or tweets. “Americans expect us to see to it that the idea of an ‘infrastructure week’ is associated with results and never again a media punchline,” Buttigieg said.

In another move forward, a second Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna is expected to be fast-tracked for approval via the FDA and the CDC. If approved, it could see another 20 million doses distributed to Americans by the end of 2020.

With cases surging and hospitals filling up, it was also reported today that a member of the media in the Biden press pool has tested positive for Covid-19.

“Out of an abundance of caution, one member of our traveling communications team who was in close contact with this individual will self-quarantine for seven days and other members of the traveling press pool who were in close contact with this individual are not on pool duty today and will not be until they clear the window for being infectious,” the Biden transition team said, noting that the PEOTUS himself was never near the infected reporter. “No other member of the President-elect’s staff has been assessed to be at risk for exposure or transmission of the virus.”

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