Biden on working with Senate Republicans: ‘I’ll never publicly embarrass them’

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President-elect Joe Biden expressed optimism that he will be able to work with Republicans because of his years working alongside them, despite a sharply divided Congress. 

“My leverage is, every senior Republican knows I’ve never once, ever, misled them,” Biden said on a telephone call Wednesday with several columnists, according to The New York Times. “I’ll never publicly embarrass them.”

Biden faces a Congress deeply divided along party lines. Many Republican lawmakers have sided with President Trump’s unproven claims of election fraud.

But Biden told the journalists on the call, which included Times columnist David Leonhardt, The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart and The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald F. Seib, that he thinks the country is in a different place now that will allow for agreement and action on certain issues — including the environment. 

“I’m going to be able to get stuff done on the environment you all are not going to believe,” he said, according to the Times. “I couldn’t have gotten it done six years ago.”

He also said he is hopeful bipartisan work can get done in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has infected more than 18 million people and killed more than 329,000 in the U.S., and has posed significant economic challenges nationwide.  

“There’s a new sense of urgency on the part of the public at large,” he said. “The American public is being made painfully aware of the extent and damage and incredibly high cost of failing to take the kind of measures we’ve been talking about.”

Democrats will maintain control of the House when Biden takes office in January, but the fate of the Senate is still undecided as Georgia heads into two runoff races. 

Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock are facing GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, respectively, in runoff elections on Jan. 5. 

If Perdue and Loeffler are successful, the GOP will maintain control of the Senate. But if Ossoff and Warnock beat them, Biden would face less pushback on his agenda as Democrats would control both chambers of Congress during the start of his presidency. 

Biden may also face some challenges from within his own party. He was among the more centrist candidates in the presidential primary, and has already faced pressure from progressives on various issues. 

Asked this week if he is up to the fight with Republicans and members of his own party, Biden told the columnists, “I respectfully suggest that I beat the hell out of everyone else.” 

The president-elect noted he topped Trump with more than 7 million votes and won the Democratic presidential nomination, beating several prominent progressives, according to the Times. 

“I think I know what I’m doing, and I’ve been pretty damn good at being able to deal with the punchers. I know how to block a straight left and do a right hook. I understand it,” he said.

Tags David Perdue Donald Trump Joe Biden Kelly Loeffler

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