USA TODAY continues its coverage of the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration and year-end legislation taken up by Congress, including the $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package that passed Monday.
Dates to watch:
Jan. 6: Congress will count and certify the electoral results in a joint session.
Jan. 20: Inauguration of Biden who will take the oath of office.
Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the transition.
Biden lays out additional detail on next stimulus
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday offered his most detailed assessment yet for what he hopes to see in another round of economic stimulus next year, pushing back on pessimism about whether Congress will be able to repeat the kind of bipartisan agreement that resulted in the $900 billion deal brokered this week.
Biden praised the agreement, which will soon head to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature, but he repeated a long-held assertion that the measure it only a “down payment” and that he would be asking lawmakers for billions more next year.
“Congress did its job this week,” Biden told reporters. “I can and I must ask them to do it again next year.”
Biden offered several specific policies he expects the next stimulus bill to include, such as direct payments – an idea that was supported by Trump and some Democrats but that was left out of first drafts of the latest stimulus -- spending for vaccine distribution and aid to local governments, a sticking point between Democrats and Republicans that was ultimately jettisoned from the measure approved Monday. Biden also mentioned an extended moratorium on evictions and foreclosures as well as extended unemployment benefits, which under the new legislation will expire in March.
Biden brushed aside skepticism about lawmakers’ ability to pass another stimulus next year given that the latest measure took eight months to work its way through Congress and was only after Congress dropped some of the most controversial provisions in play, including aid to state and local government and liability protection for businesses, sought by Republicans.
“I don’t think it’s a honeymoon at all. I think it’s a nightmare,” Biden said, arguing that Republicans would hear from their constituents facing economic turmoil as well as Democrats. “They’re not doing me a favor.”
Though he has not offered specifics Biden has repeatedly said the next round of stimulus would have to include a sizable investment in vaccine distribution.
"We’ll need more help to fully distribute the vaccine. We’re going to need more testing, in order to be able to open our schools,” he told reporters Tuesday. “We’ll need more funding to help firefighters and police, many of whom are being laid off as I speak. The same with nurses risking their lives on the front lines."
The $900 billion package will provide up to $600 payments to individuals, phasing out for people earning more than $87,000 per year; extend $300 weekly unemployment insurance by 11 weeks, through mid-March; extend the eviction moratorium to Jan. 31; extend a loan program for small businesses, and provide $13 million in benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
– John Fritze and Bart Jansen
Biden blasts Trump for lack of response to cyber hack
WILMINGTON, Del. – President-elect Joe Biden blasted President Donald Trump’s response to the cyber hack of government agencies and U.S. businesses, saying the administration must publicly identify the culprit of the sophisticated attack and take action in response.
“This assault happened on Donald Trump’s watch, when he wasn’t watching,” Biden told reporters at The Queen theater. “It’s still his responsibility as president to defend American interests for the next four weeks. Rest assured, even if he doesn’t take it seriously, I will.”
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Biden acknowledged that much remains unknown about the attack. But he said it began in late 2019 and that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr have each suggested Russia is responsible.
“It certainly fits Russia’s long history of reckless, disruptive cyber activities,” Biden said.
Biden welcomed congressional leaders of both parties criticizing the attack and preparing to take action. But he criticized Trump for failing to prioritize cybersecurity by eliminating or downgrading cybersecurity officers and “President Trump’s irrational downplaying of the seriousness of the attack. Enough is enough.”
Biden said the Pentagon has delayed briefing members of his transition team about the hack and other issues.
“I see no evidence that it’s under control,” Biden said responding to Trump’s assertion shortly after the attack came to light.
Biden said his administration and Congress must warn adversaries that such attacks will carry costs, which he is prepared to impose, to prevent future attacks.
“Our adversaries are highly capable,” Biden said. “Cyber threats are among the greatest threats to our security in the 21st Century.”
– Bart Jansen and John Fritze
Trump must wait to sign COVID-19 spending bill – it is being “enrolled”
WASHINGTON – It may be a few days before President Donald Trump actually signs the COVID-19 relief bill into law.
For one thing, it hasn’t reached the White House yet.
The $900 billion rescue package is going through “enrollment,” the process by which the final bill “is printed on parchment paper, signed by appropriate House and Senate officials, and submitted to the president for signature,” according to the U.S. Senate website.
Enrollment of this new law will take some time.
The full bill - which is attached to a $1.4 trillion spending plan to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year - runs nearly 5,600 pages long. It took several hours just to print out.
Trump is expected to sign the bill, eventually - just as soon as it gets to his desk.
— David Jackson
Trump expected to sign COVID-19 stimulus bill
The Senate passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package Monday, sending the bill to President Donald Trump to sign Tuesday. It will send millions of Americans direct payments and rescue thousands of small businesses nationwide struggling to stay open in the COVID-19 pandemic after a months-long stalemate that was ended with the help of a special dinner at Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski's house.
The measure was attached to a $1.4 trillion spending bill to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2021 (the end of the fiscal year) to form a nearly 5,600 page-bill that is one of the largest pieces of legislation Congress has ever tackled. Its passage leaves some hoping this signals cooperation with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be possible in 2021.
Earlier in the evening, the House passed the measure 359-53. Hours later, the Senate approved it by a 92-6 vote. Trump is expected to sign it today. Whether he'll sign the National Defense act is another matter. If Trump vetoes the NDAA, McConnell says the Senate would return Dec. 29 regarding a congressional override.
Out with Betsy DeVos, in with Miguel Cardona?
President-elect Joe Biden is poised to nominate Miguel Cardona as secretary of the Department of Education, multiple media outlets reported, choosing a major proponent of reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In-person education is too important for our children to disrupt their education further," Cardona wrote in a letter to Connecticut school superintendents in November, "unless and until local conditions specifically dictate the need to do so."
Cardona would lead Biden's goal to reopen all public schools in the first 100 days of his administration if confirmed by the U.S. Senate. His pick would also add another Latino to Biden's increasingly diverse Cabinet.
Cardona has served as Connecticut's education chief for 16 months after working as a public school educator for two decades.
Rep. Speier calls West Point cheating scandal deeply troubling
More than 70 cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point were accused of cheating on a math exam, the worst academic scandal since the 1970s at the Army's premier training ground for officers.
Fifty-eight cadets admitted cheating on the exam, which was administered remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of them have been enrolled in a rehabilitation program and will be on probation for the remainder of their time at the academy. Others resigned, and some face hearings that could result in their expulsion.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who leads the personnel panel of the House Armed Services Committee, said she found the scandal deeply troubling and West Point must provide more transparency to determine the scope of cheating.
"Our West Point cadets are the cream of the crop and are expected to demonstrate unimpeachable character and integrity," Speier said. "They must be held to the same high standard during remote learning as in-person."
–Tom Vanden Brook
Kamala Harris campaigns for Ossoff, Warnock in Georgia
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris campaigned Monday in Georgia for two Democratic Senate candidates whose races will determine control of the chamber.
She campaigned for Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who are challenging Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelley Loeffler, respectively. The Senate now has 50 Republican senators and 48 members who caucus with Democrats. If both challengers win, Harris could break Senate ties in favor of Biden’s priorities.
Harris recited President-elect Joe Biden’s priorities for expanding Medicare and Medicaid, tripling Title I funding for schools and providing assistance to first-time homebuyers.
“Everything is at stake,” Harris said.
Warnock had said earlier that the Democrats would better provide health care and distribute the vaccine for COVID-19 before rebuilding the country with an infrastructure program.
“We’ve got to get the vaccine distributed safely and efficiently,” Warnock said. “We’ve got to make sure that communities of color and other marginalized communities don’t find themselves at the back of the line.”
A small group of protesters assembled outside the event, with several carrying signs. “Kamala is a socialist,” a sign said.
Georgia has reliably supported Republicans statewide for decades, but Biden beat President Donald Trump this year. Harris had planned two campaign events Monday, but had to return to Washington to vote on the COVID-19 stimulus package and federal spending legislation.
“You did what nobody thought could be done,” Harris told Georgia voters. “You know, no good comes without asking for a little bit more.”
Biden campaigned in Atlanta on Dec. 15. Trump visited the state Dec. 5 and said he would return Jan. 4. Vice President Mike Pence has also campaigned in Georgia.
More than 1.4 million people have voted in the runoffs already, and voting ends Jan. 5.
– Bart Jansen
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden blasts Trump for lack of response to cyber hack: updates