Biden pledges to work with mayors
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden pledged to work with mayors during a virtual conference with the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Monday as local leaders asked federal officials for help in fighting the coronavirus pandemic and economic woes.
“All of you have been on the front lines from the very beginning, and as we head into this Thanksgiving and a very dark winter with cases of hospitalizations and deaths spiking, I want you to know that we’re here for you,” Biden said, speaking from Wilmington, alongside Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Biden’s comments come as cases across the country surge and Americans prepare to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday. More than 12 million people in America have been infected by the coronavirus, and more than a quarter-million have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The president-elect emphasized the need for the country to unify in an effort to combat the pandemic and other issues plaguing the nation.
“There is a strong sense of common purpose and a desire for real partnership between the states, the cities and the federal government,” Biden said.
“There are so many other issues that your cities are on the front lines of — racial justice, climate change, minimum wage, paid family leave, closing broadband gaps, ending homelessness,” he continued. “The only way to beat these challenges, I believe, and so does Kamala, is that we have to come together as a nation.”
Biden added that Monday’s meeting was “just a start,” and that his administration “will have an open door for mayors.”
A number of mayors from some of the largest cities in the country were on the video conference on Monday. Among those on the call were Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D), Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer (D).
The virtual meeting with city leaders came a day after the mayors of Pittsburgh; Cincinnati; Louisville, Ky.; Youngstown, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Huntington, W.Va.; and Morgantown, W.Va., penned an op-ed for The Washington Post calling for a “Marshall Plan for Middle America.”
The proposal would require a $60 billion investment over the next 10 years, the eight mayors — all Democrats — wrote, as well as the use of tax credits and lending programs to help the Ohio Valley Region shift toward a green economy.
Two of the op-ed authors, Greg Fischer of Louisville and Nan Whaley of Dayton, are the president and vice president, respectively, of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
In a sign of the bipartisan outcry for federal help, Michigan state lawmakers invited to the White House last week ostensibly to discuss election results delivered a letter to President Trump urging the passage of relief for state and local governments.
Biden’s pledge to work with mayors of both parties was a sharp contrast to Trump, who has had a combative relationship with some of the leaders on Monday’s call.
Trump has traded insults with de Blasio, Bottoms and Durkan in particular, blasting them over their handling of protests against racial injustice over the summer. Trump frequently decried those leaders as weak and pressed them to send in the National Guard to crackdown on unrest.