Politics live updates: Tickets to Joe Biden, Kamala Harris swearing-in ceremony to be limited

Bart Jansen, Ledyard King and Savannah Behrmann, USA TODAY

USA TODAY's coverage of the 2020 election and President-elect Joe Biden's transition continues this week as he rolls out more of his picks for top jobs in his administration and prepares to take the oath of office Jan. 20. The Electoral College affirmed Biden's win Monday, officially giving Biden enough electoral votes to defeat President Donald Trump. Congress will count and certify the results in a joint session Jan. 6.

Trump has cleared the way for Biden's team to use federal resources and get briefings during the transition, although Trump has yet to formally concede the race and continues to challenge the results.

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.

Biden outlines goals for governors in 'tough' battle against COVID-19

President-elect Joe Biden met online Wednesday with 31 governors and urged them to join his goals in the first 100 days of his administration to have everyone wear masks and to reopen most schools.

Biden has pledged to distribute 100 million vaccinations against COVID-19 during that period after taking office on Jan. 20. That would mean protecting 50 million people because everyone needs two shots. Biden acknowledged that it will take time to vaccinate more than 300 million people nationwide.

“It's going to take the federal government, and working with you guys to decide what the best way to do it,” Biden told the governors on a Zoom call. “It's going to require us to be clear with the American people about what to expect through this massive public education campaign,” and taking steps to reach underserved communities.

Also participating in the call were Jeff Zients, Biden’s COVID-19 response coordinator, and Dr. Vivek Murthy, his choice for surgeon general. Zients said Biden’s transition officials have been meeting with leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the vaccine-development team called Operation Warp Speed.

“It will be one of the greatest operational challenges our country has ever faced,” Zients said. “We're meeting with the vaccine manufacturers, the testing companies, the pharmacies, the employers, unions and civil rights leaders and many more so we can incorporate their feedback and perspective.”

But Zients said governors are on the front lines in bringing the pandemic under control.

“You're on the front lines and we need your expertise and experience to turn the tide,” Zients said.

Biden has said he’ll order people to wear masks in federal buildings and on interstate transportation such as planes, trains and buses.

If vaccinations and mask-wearing reduce the spread of the virus, Biden also urged governors to work toward reopening most schools during that period. He committed to pursue federal funding for equipment and training necessary.

“That's going to take a lot of money, but we know how to do it,” Biden said. “We do everything from ventilation to more teachers, smaller class sizes, a whole range of things.”

Biden met online a month ago with members of both parties of the National Governors Association, saying he would work hand in glove with them.

“This road is going to be long and it's going to be tough, but I want you to know this is not a one-off meeting,” Biden said.

Governors noted that it took eight months to distribute 100 million tests for the virus, but that vaccine will require reaching 330 million Americans.

Governors have sought financial aid during the economic downturn and for assistance in distributing vaccines for COVID-19. Governors were assembling lists of needs such as masks and testing equipment.

Biden has promised to provide federal funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard, to assist states in their response.

Bart Jansen

Tickets to Biden swearing-in ceremony to be limited

Good luck getting tickets if you’re hoping to attend President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony next month.

Planners for the Jan. 20 ceremony on the Capitol’s West Front said Wednesday a limited number of tickets will be distributed because of concerns over public health and safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Traditionally, the congressional committee planning the event distributes 200,000 tickets for the official ceremony and provides ticket bundles to members of Congress to distribute to their constituents. But for the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies, invitations to Congress members will be limited to themselves and one guest, similar to the audience for a State of the Union address.

“The election of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect (Kamala) Harris was historic, and we know that many Americans would have wanted to attend the inauguration in person,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a member of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.

But, “safety must be our top priority,” Klobuchar said.

Organizers are planning more opportunities to watch the ceremony online in addition to the traditional televised broadcast, said the committee’s chairman, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Even if you can’t attend, you might be able to get your hands on an inaugural souvenir. Commemorative ticket bundles and program packets will be made available to congressional offices for distribution to constituents following the ceremonies.

– Michael Collins

Biden introduces Buttigieg for DOT

President-elect Joe Biden introduced Pete Buttigieg as his choice to lead the Transportation Department because of his vision and leadership to foster economic development.

Biden said Buttigieg, a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, would lead the economic recovery by restoring crumbling roads and bridges, convert vehicles to clean energy and lead “the second great railroad revolution.”

“Pete’s got a great perspective of a mayor that solves problems and brings people together,” Biden said at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware. “He’s got a vision of a next-generation leader with the experience and the temperament to lead change today, to dig us out of this economic crisis.”

Buttigieg continued Biden’s priority for a diverse cabinet. He would be the first openly gay cabinet nominee to be sent to the Senate for confirmation.

Buttigieg recalled at 17 watching on television how one of former President Bill Clinton’s nominees for an ambassadorship to Luxembourg, James Hormel, was attacked in the Senate before he served as a recess appointment.

“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 said. “Two decades later, I can’t help but think of a 17-year-old somewhere who might be watching us right now, somebody who wonders whether and where they belong in the world or even in their own family. I’m thinking about the message that today’s announcement is sending to them.”

Buttigieg said he always thought of travel as synonymous with growth, adventure and even love. He proposed to his husband Chasten at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.

“Don’t let anyone tell you that O’Hare isn’t romantic,” Buttigieg said.

Buttigieg served eight years as mayor before campaigning for president. He talked about rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges, and revived regional rail service. He said he also worked to increase bicycle mobility and to create infrastructure for electric vehicles.

“At its best, transportation makes the American dream possible, getting people and goods to where they need to be,” Buttigieg said. “At its worst, misguided policies and missed opportunities can reinforce racial, economic and environmental injustice.”

Buttigieg previously served as an intelligence officer in the Navy Reserve. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2014. He graduated from Harvard University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

– Bart Jansen

Biden wants to get COVID vaccine, but not ahead of priority recipients

President-elect Joe Biden still plans to get the coronavirus vaccine in public, but doesn't want to cut ahead of higher-priority recipients such as health care workers.

“We’re working on that right now. I don’t want to get to the head of the line," Biden told reporters Wednesday at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware. "But I want to make sure that we want to demonstrate to the American people that it’s safe to take. They’re working on that right now. When I do it, I’ll do it publicly so you all can actually witness my getting it done."

Biden on Wednesday also reaffirmed his confidence that his son Hunter Biden has done nothing wrong. Hunter Biden announced last week that the U.S. attorney in Delaware was under investigating his taxes and Republicans have called for a special counsel to be appointed.

“I am confident," Biden said.

Biden praised congressional progress on a stimulus package, but only as a down payment toward greater spending in 2021.

“The stimulus package is encouraging. It looks like they’re very, very close. It looks like there’s going to be direct cash payments," Biden said. "It’s a down payment, an important down payment on what’s going to have to be done at the end of January into February. It’s very important to get done. I compliment the bipartisan group on working together to get it done."

– Bart Jansen

Biden expected to tap former EPA chief McCarthy as climate czar, reports say

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Gina McCarthy, former Environmental Protection Agency chief under the Obama administration, to fill the newly created post of White House climate adviser, according to several media reports.

In McCarthy, 66, who has spent the past year as president and chief executive officer of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Biden has tapped a fierce advocate for policies to combat climate change.

At EPA, she was an architect of the sweeping Clean Power Plan that President Barack Obama proposed to limit carbon emissions from aging coal-fired power plants that contribute to the warming of the planet. The regulations were blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 on a 5-4 vote before they could be enacted.

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, commended Biden not only for creating the position of what’s being dubbed the “climate czar,” but also for picking McCarthy to fill it.

“She understands how government works,” Krupp said in a statement. “She spearheaded scientifically and legally solid actions to protect Americans from unhealthy air, dirty water, and the clear and present danger of climate change – all while navigating past climate denialism. She has all the tools and talents needed to be a great domestic climate advisor in an administration that's poised for progress.”

Biden has made combatting climate change a top priority, including rejoining the Paris climate accord, reversing Trump administration rollbacks that have benefitted the fossil fuel industry, and spending billions in developing clean energy.

He already has named former Secretary of State John Kerry a “special envoy” to work on climate change abroad. McCarthy’s role will be to promote such policies and strategies domestically.

Biden also is expected to name former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who promoted green energy development during her eight years in office, as his new Energy secretary.

– Ledyard King

Trump to McConnell: 'Too soon to give up' on the election

Less than a day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden won the election, President Donald Trump — who has refused to recognize the legitimate electoral results — told the longtime senator in a tweet that it's "too soon to give up."

The Electoral College met nationwide Monday and formally awarded Biden 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232 based on the certified Nov. 3 election results, which affirmed Biden's victory.

McConnell — who previously refused to publicly admit Trump lost — said Tuesday: "The Electoral College has spoken, so today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden."

Early Wednesday, Trump directly addressed the Kentuckian in a tweet.

"Mitch, 75,000,000 VOTES, a record for a sitting President (by a lot). Too soon to give up," Trump said on Twitter. "Republican Party must finally learn to fight. People are angry!"

– Morgan Watkins

Biden to introduce Buttigieg as incoming Transportation chief

President-elect Joe Biden filled in his Cabinet more on Tuesday, announcing he has selected former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg to be his transportation secretary.

Biden said in a statement Tuesday that the Transportation Department is at the nexus of the interlocking challenges of jobs, infrastructure, equity and climate change that he has promised to address.

"I trust Mayor Pete to lead this work with focus, decency, and a bold vision," Biden said. "He will bring people together to get big things done.”

Buttigieg is scheduled to appear with Biden Wednesday for a formal announcement. On Twitter, he called the nomination a "tremendous opportunity – to create jobs, meet the climate challenge, and enhance equity for all."

Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is expected to lead Biden's Department of Energy, according to multiple news reports.

Granholm, 61, was attorney general of Michigan from 1999 to 2003 and the 47th Governor of Michigan from 2003 to 2011. She was the first woman to serve as Michigan's governor, where she made clean energy development a hallmark of her administration.

– Bart Jansen, Savannah Behrmann and Ledyard King

More: President-elect Joe Biden wants to put Pete Buttigieg in charge of Transportation Department

More: Joe Biden selects former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm to lead Energy Department, reports say

Biden urges Georgia voters to elect senators 'who want to get something done'

President-elect Joe Biden urged Georgia voters Tuesday to support Democrats in two Senate runoff campaigns challenging incumbent Republicans who represent "road-blocks" against his agenda in the chamber.

“I need two senators from this state who want to get something done, not two senators who are just going to get in the way," Biden told a drive-in rally where supporters cheered and honked their horns. "Are you ready to vote for two senators who are doers and not road-blocks?"

Supporters lined the street with signs that said, "Hope Restored," and "keep Georgia blue."

Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are each in separate runoff races to hold onto their seats, with voting ending Jan. 5. They are being challenged by Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, respectively.

– Bart Jansen

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Politics updates: Tickets to Biden swearing-in ceremony to be limited