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Government & Politics
2020 is looking to be a pivotal year in politics. But this year's elections are about much more than the race for the White House. And the coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a complicating factor. WKSU, our colleagues at public radio stations across Ohio and the region and at NPR will bring you coverage of all the races from the national to the local level.

Brown: Biden is Ready to Tackle Coronavirus, Other Challenges with Little Help from Current Administration

Former Vice President Joe Biden, now president-elect, leaves a campaign event last month in Wilmington, Del.
Andrew Hamik
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AP
President-elect Joe Biden will rely on science and effective practices, such as wearing a mask, in the battle against the coronavirus, according to Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Ten days after the election, the Trump administration has still refused to admit defeat. Despite that, President-elect Joe Biden continues to plan to take office in January. And he’s getting support and assistance from fellow Democrat Sherrod Brown.

The senator from Ohio says battling the coronavirus is Biden’s top priority, and he’ll do the things Trump has refused to do—wear a mask, social distance, and tell people the truth.

"President-elect Biden needs to begin to do a lot of those things. Listening to the science, working with local officials and governors, not having every state government going different directions because clearly that hasn't worked," Brown said.

Biden already has announced a COVID-19 task force of scientists and physicians to work on his administration's response to the pandemic.

Brown calls them "the best minds in the country that know how to deal with public health disaster." He also says Biden will need the help of Congress to provide funding for those who are unemployed or facing eviction. He also wants to see support for local government and schools, "so kids can go back to school safely."

As far as a stimulus package before the new administration takes office, Brown remains hopeful that the Senate will act on the relief package already approved by the House.

"So far (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell and President Trump have said to people living on the edge, ‘Sorry, you’re on your own.' We will keep trying. We will keep pushing," Brown said. "I'm hopeful Sen. McConnell—now that the election's over— will change his mind and realize there is a role for government to help people who, through no fault of their own, lost their jobs and can't find work, face eviction, face utility shut-off in the middle of a pandemic. As winter approaches I can't think of any more better reasons to do the right thing morally here, to save their lives or at least make their lives a little bit better."

The Trump administration has so far not followed standard protocol for administrations in transition. Brown is concerned about that, especially when it comes to national security since Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mike Esper earlier this week.

"He's put his political people in there, like he put his political people at the Centers for Disease Control, like he put his political people in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau undermining all of the efforts in the past to protect the public interest. We've never seen a president do this," Brown said.

Photo of Congresswoman Fudge
Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH 11) is pursuing appointment as Secretary of Agriculture in the Biden administration.

He recalled that shortly after the 2016 election, President Obama invited Donald Trump to the White House. "I believe it was the day after the election, to meet and begin the transition, even though that election was much, much, much closer than this one. And forgetting all the Russian interference, not even counting that," Brown said. "President Obama did it right. President Bush did it right before that. Each president, even when they lose, knows that they need to honor their oath in the Constitution and have an orderly transition." But with Trump, Brown said, "it's all about himself."

Brown said he has "no interest" in taking a cabinet level position in the new Biden administration. He's serving his third six-year term in the U.S. Senate. "I love this job," he said.

But he continues to advise the Biden administration and says he supports Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, the Cleveland Democrat, who's pursuing appointment as Secretary of Agriculture.

"She's a senior member of the Agriculture Committee. I think she would do a really good job here. I've been speaking to a number of people about her and will continue to advocate for her," Brown said. And Brown says there may be other members of Ohio’s congressional delegation considered for positions in the Biden administration.