WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday in Delaware, as lawmakers negotiate spending bills to avert a government shutdown and provide coronavirus relief.
The incoming president signaled he would look to strengthen the relationship between the White House and Democratic lawmakers, which collapsed under President Donald Trump.
Trump has largely refused to meet with congressional Democrats over the past year, instead dispatching deputies such as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to negotiate spending bills.
"You have to understand, in my Oval Office, mi casa you casa," Biden told Schumer and Pelosi. "We're going to spend a lot of time together."
The event in Delaware was the first in-person gathering with the Democratic leaders since September for Biden, who has been holding many of his transition meetings virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting comes as the former vice president has escalated calls for Congress to pass stalled coronavirus stimulus legislation.
The fate of the package may ultimately hinge on two runoff Senate elections in Georgia later this month that will determine control of the upper chamber. Negotiators were unable to strike a deal on a bill before the Nov. 3 election, despite Trump's calls for Senate Republicans to increase their offer.
But Senate Republicans — already reluctant to approve additional spending before Election Day — appear emboldened by better-than-expected performance of their congressional candidates, despite Biden's victory at the top of the ticket. The Senate GOP says they will support $500 billion in stimulus now, while Democrats have sought a $2.4 trillion rescue bill.
Biden spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier Friday that there was "no more room for delay" on emergency virus aid.
"They're in lockstep agreement that there needs to be emergency assistance and aid during the lame-duck session to help families, to help small businesses," Psaki said.
Pelosi said earlier in the day that recent talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had not resulted in a breakthrough. That didn't happen, but hopefully it will," she said.
Biden also outlined his agenda for the first 100 days of his presidency, including taking aggressive action to contain COVID-19 and providing resources for economic recovery.
On Thursday, Biden said he had already made his decision on who he planned to nominate as his Treasury secretary, and that he expected to announce the choice before Thanksgiving.(c)2020 Bloomberg News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC