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Biden to meet with Pelosi, Schumer as challenges loom — today

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WILMINGTON, Del. — Pres­i­dent-elect Joe Biden is set to hold his first in-per­son meet­ing since win­ning the elec­tion with House Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi and Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic leader Chuck Schumer on Fri­day.

The incom­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­dent will host the top Democ­rats in the House and Sen­ate at his makeshift tran­si­tion head­quar­ters in a down­town Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware, the­ater. Their dis­cus­sion is expect­ed to be pri­vate, although the imme­di­ate chal­lenges they face are no secret.

The new gov­ern­ing team is already fac­ing intense pres­sure to approve anoth­er COVID-19 relief bill, come up with a clear plan to dis­trib­ute mil­lions of dos­es of a prospec­tive vac­cine, and Biden is just days away from unveil­ing the first of his Cab­i­net picks, which are sub­ject to Sen­ate con­fir­ma­tion.

The pres­i­dent-elect has also promised to work close­ly with Repub­li­cans in Con­gress to exe­cute his gov­ern­ing agen­da, but so far, he has focused his con­gres­sion­al out­reach on his lead­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic allies.

The meet­ing comes two days after House Democ­rats nom­i­nat­ed Pelosi to be the speak­er who guides them again next year as Biden becomes pres­i­dent, although she seemed to sug­gest these would be her final two years in the lead­er­ship post. The Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­rat, the first woman to be speak­er, already has served six years in the job, but the next two loom as her tough­est.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump con­tin­ues to block a smooth tran­si­tion of pow­er to the next pres­i­dent, refus­ing to allow his admin­is­tra­tion to coop­er­ate with Biden’s tran­si­tion team. Specif­i­cal­ly, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion is deny­ing Biden access to detailed brief­in­gs on nation­al secu­ri­ty and pan­dem­ic plan­ning that lead­ers in both par­ties say are impor­tant for prepar­ing Biden to gov­ern imme­di­ate­ly after his Jan. 20 inau­gu­ra­tion.

Try­ing to bypass the Trump admin­is­tra­tion alto­geth­er, Biden on Thurs­day met vir­tu­al­ly with a col­lec­tion of lead­ing Repub­li­can and Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­er­nors.

“Unfor­tu­nate­ly, my admin­is­tra­tion hasn’t been able to get every­thing we need,” Biden told the Nation­al Gov­er­nors Association’s lead­er­ship team as he vowed to rise above pol­i­tics in a uni­fied front against the virus. “There’s a real desire for real part­ner­ship between the states and the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment.”

The Trump administration’s Health and Human Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Alex Azar said Fri­day on CBS’ “This Morn­ing” that Biden’s charge that the tran­si­tion delays would cost Amer­i­can lives is “absolute­ly incor­rect.”

“Every aspect of what we do is com­plete­ly trans­par­ent — no secret data or knowl­edge,” Azar said.

Trump, mean­while, is inten­si­fy­ing his brazen attempts to sow doubt on the elec­tion results. The out­go­ing president’s unprece­dent­ed cam­paign to spread mis­in­for­ma­tion now includes pres­sur­ing Michi­gan offi­cials to block the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of their state’s elec­tion results.

Biden won Michi­gan by more than 150,000 votes, a mar­gin 15 times larg­er than Trump’s when he won the state four years ago.

Elec­tion law experts see Trump’s push as the last, dying gasps of his cam­paign and say Biden is cer­tain to walk into the Oval Office come Jan­u­ary. But there is great con­cern that Trump’s effort is doing real dam­age to pub­lic faith in the integri­ty of U.S. elec­tions.

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