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Why Biden’s new chief of staff is uniquely positioned for this moment

Why Biden’s new chief of staff is uniquely positioned for this moment

This piece was originally published in the November 12, 2020 edition of CAP Action’s daily newsletter, the Progress Report. Subscribe to the Progress Report here.

Photo by Tabrez Syed on Unsplash

“What a blessing to slowly be moving away from chaos.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar

Even Senate Republicans can’t escape the reality that Joe Biden won this election — by a wide margin.

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  • President-elect Biden announced last night that Ron Klain will be his White House chief of staff. Klain, who is widely respected within progressive circles, previously served as Biden’s top advisor when he was vice president and, more recently, as counsel to Biden’s presidential campaign. Klain has already received praise from figures across the political spectrum, from Ilhan Omar to Ed Markey to Pete Buttigieg.
  • But there’s one item on Ron Klain’s resume that makes him especially prepared for this job: He led the White House’s Ebola response team during the Obama administration. And early this year, before the coronavirus pandemic was on most of our minds, Klain issued a warning in The Atlantic, cautioning that the U.S. — and specifically the Trump administration — was not prepared for the disaster-in-waiting that has now resulted in hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths and nearly a year of our lives spent in constant crisis.
  • Senate Republicans are slowly coming around on the very low bar that’s been set for them: Acknowledging the results of the presidential election. In addition to the senators pictured above, a handful of those who have historically stood by Trump through the day-to-day chaos of his administration are finally starting to go through the motions of a peaceful transition of power. As the New York Times put it, “it’s not exactly a stampede” of Republican support for these bare minimum aspects of the presidential transition, but it’s better than the alternative. Here’s our running list.
  • As of this afternoon, Senators Grassley, Thune, Lankford, and Graham had all said publicly that they think President-elect Biden should be receiving daily intelligence briefings. These briefings, which are standard for an incoming president to receive, have thus far been withheld thanks to the Trump-appointed head of the General Services Administration, who has yet to initiate official transition procedures with the Biden team.
  • Meanwhile, the president-elect is doing exactly what you would expect of an incoming president. Today, Biden spoke with the Pope, who congratulated him on his victory. He’s also received messages from and spoken with a number of foreign leaders throughout the week, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel, India’s Narendra Modi, and more. Biden also met with his new pandemic advisory board, announced the teams who will guide the transition at each federal agency, and launched the transition team’s official website.


  • Joe Biden announced his plans to undo Trump’s cruel and xenophobic immigration policies. In addition to fully restoring the DACA program, which is a frequent target of Trump’s attacks, the president-elect plans to implement a 100-day freeze on all deportations upon taking office, limit arrests by ICE, reverse restrictions on green cards and more.
  • The coronavirus crisis in America’s prisons and jails just keeps getting worse. A new report details the impact of the pandemic on incarcerated people in Texas, including the staggering fact that 6% of the entire population at one facility has died from COVID-19. The fact that incarcerated people are dying rapidly under government custody is disturbing on its own. But to add insult to injury, the report found that 80% of people who died in jails from COVID-19 were not even convicted of a crime.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told reporters that they should give QAnon supporters who managed to get elected to Congress a chance before passing judgement. Asked today about members-elect like Marjorie Taylor Greene who openly support the unfounded conspiracy theory made popular in online right-wing circles, McCarthy said we should “give them an opportunity before you claim what you believe they have done, and what they will do.” Um, no thanks.


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