Biden team eyes transition plans as states tally votes

Joe Biden’s advisers have reportedly started transition planning and are holding conversations on potential picks for White House and agency posts as the Democratic nominee holds an advantage in election results.

The New York Times reported Friday that while voting in the presidential race is still ongoing, should Biden win, he is expected to announce his choices for Cabinet positions around Thanksgiving.

The newspaper, citing at least six sources familiar with the conversations, said Biden would likely seek to fill out a potential White House staff before focusing on other posts in a possible Biden administration.

The report comes as multiple states remain uncalled as of Saturday, although the former vice president currently leads in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada as the number of votes outstanding dwindles.

During an address late Friday, Biden signaled that his team was already considering next steps.

“While we’re waiting for the final results, I want people to know we are not waiting to get the work done,” Biden said while appearing with his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), at a convention center near his home in Wilmington, Del.

Biden’s transition planning is being led by Ted Kaufman, his longtime aide and former chief of staff in the Senate, a source familiar with his planning told The Hill.

In putting together a potential team, aides plan to focus on top health roles to address the pandemic, officials told the Times.

A group of two dozen health policy and technology experts has reportedly been put together to examine how to develop and deliver a vaccine, secure supply chains, and improve health data, among other issues.

Former Obama administration Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is among those in talks for a role, the Times reported. Murthy has privately advised Biden for months on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Should Biden eventually secure the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the presidency, he is expected to focus on filling White House roles first, including chief of staff. Ron Klain, his former chief of staff as vice president who also served as the Obama administration’s Ebola czar in 2014, is reportedly a favorite for the role.

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the reported transition plans. 

The Times, citing more than a half-dozen people familiar with the plans, reported that Biden also plans to make a bipartisan gesture as he puts together a possible team for an administration.

The Times reported that the Biden camp has been raising money for a transition operation since May, with at least $7 million collected thus far. According to the officials, the team has prepared for multiple scenarios should President Trump refuse to commit to a peaceful transition. 

The Trump campaign has launched a multistate legal battle to halt the counting of absentee ballots as his path for reelection has narrowed.

According to projections from The Associated Press, Biden currently holds 264 electoral votes, with Trump at 214. The AP and Fox News have projected Biden as the winner in Arizona, though no other outlets have backed up that call.

Biden overtook Trump’s previous leads in Georgia and Pennsylvania on Friday. As of Saturday morning, the former vice president was ahead of Trump by nearly 29,000 votes in Pennsylvania. In Georgia, Biden is ahead by a smaller margin of just more than 4,000 votes.

Amie Parnes contributed.

Tags 2020 Biden campaign 2020 election Arizona coronavirus covid-19 Donald Trump Georgia Joe Biden Nevada New York Times Pennsylvania Ted Kaufman transition team Vivek Murthy White House
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