President Donald Trump has refused to concede the election, weeks after the race was called for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Though some Republicans have broken ranks with the president and called on their colleagues to support the transfer of power, many top Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have not extended the courtesy.
Regardless, Biden said he feels optimistic he’ll be able to work on a number of policy objectives with Republican senators, whose control of the chamber hinges on the Georgia Senate runoffs this January. Biden said he and Republicans share objectives for a number of issues from infrastructure to cancer research.
“I’m not suggesting it’s going to be easy,” Biden said. “It’s going to be hard. But I’m confident that on the things that affect the national security and the fundamental economic necessity to keep people employed, to get people employed, to bring the economy back, there’s plenty of room we can work.”
In the nearly hour-long pre-recorded interview, Biden and Harris also stressed the diversity of their Cabinet picks so far. Biden said he would be meeting with the board of the NAACP on Tuesday following concerns over the diversity of his announced nominees. Biden and Harris also emphasized that some 15 Cabinet picks have yet to be unveiled.
Harris also responded to remarks from progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders who told the Associated Press two weeks ago that it would be “enormously insulting” if their ticket assembled a Cabinet that “ignored the progressive community.”
“We’re not done yet, Jake,” Harris said. “We’re not even halfway there. So I think we should have this conversation when we’re done.”
When pushed on who was the main progressive voice among their current administration picks, Biden pointed to Alejandro Mayorkas, his choice for secretary of Homeland Security. Mayorkas worked in the department during the Obama administration as head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services during the implementation of DACA.
Biden added that picking high-profile progressives from Congress to serve in his administration would be “tough decisions to make,” arguing they could more strategically advance his agenda in the House or Senate. It was an echo of comments he made last month tamping down hopes of some of his former progressive rivals, like Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, from getting positions in his administration. Warren had privately expressed her desire to be named Secretary of the Treasury — a nomination that is slated to go to former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
“Taking someone out of the Senate, taking someone out of the House, particularly a person of consequence, is a really difficult decision that would have to be made,” Biden said at the time during an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt. “I have a very ambitious, very progressive agenda. And it’s going to take really strong leaders in the House and Senate to get it done.”