WILMINGTON, Del. -- President-elect Joe Biden is calling on Congress to enact billions of dollars in emergency covid-19 assistance before the year's end, according to a senior adviser who warned Friday that "there's no more room for delay."
Biden transition aide Jen Psaki delivered the remarks before Biden's first in-person meeting since winning the election with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer. The incoming Democratic president hosted the top Democrats in the House and Senate on Friday afternoon at his makeshift transition headquarters in a downtown Wilmington, Del., theater.
Biden sat with Schumer, Pelosi and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, all wearing masks and spaced out around a bank of tables.
"In my Oval Office, mi casa, you casa," Biden said during the brief portion of the meeting that journalists were allowed to witness. "I hope we're going to spend a lot of time together."
Pelosi said at an earlier news conference that she and Schumer would be talking with Biden about "the urgency of crushing the virus," as well as how to use the lame-duck session of Congress, legislation on keeping the government funded and covid-19 relief.
But prospects for new virus aid this year remain uncertain. Pelosi said talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP leadership Thursday did not produce any consensus on a new virus aid package.
"That didn't happen, but hopefully it will," she said.
Also Friday, McConnell, R-Ky., proposed that Congress shift $455 billion of unspent small-business lending funds toward a new covid-19 aid package. His offer came after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Biden's new governing team is facing intense pressure to approve another covid-19 relief bill and come up with a clear plan to distribute millions of doses of a prospective vaccine, even as Biden is just days away from unveiling the first of his Cabinet picks, which are subject to Senate confirmation.
Psaki said Biden, Pelosi and Schumer are already working together to push for a pandemic relief bill before Congress adjourns for the year.
"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. "There's no more room for delay, and we need to move forward as quickly as possible."
Separately, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Friday that President Donald Trump's administration should aid Biden in his transition, saying the Democrat has a "very good chance" of becoming the next president.
"If there is any chance whatsoever that Joe Biden will be the next president, and it looks like he has a very good chance, the Trump Administration should provide the Biden team with all transition materials, resources, and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition so that both sides are ready on day one," Alexander said in a statement. "That especially should be true, for example, on vaccine distribution."
Alexander, who is retiring, said recounts and resolving disputes after a close election are not unprecedented and should reassure Americans that the results are valid.
He also drew upon the example of Al Gore, who 37 days after the 2000 election, "made the best speech of his life accepting the result" that George W. Bush would become president.
"My hope is that the loser of this presidential election will follow Al Gore's example, put the country first, congratulate the winner and help him to a good beginning of the new term," Alexander said. "The prompt and orderly transfer or reaffirmation of immense power after a presidential election is the most enduring symbol of our democracy."
Alexander's comments follow similar concerns from other prominent Tennessee Republicans who have left office, including former Gov. Bill Haslam, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and former Sen. Bob Corker.
"While the president has the right to legitimate legal challenges, responsible citizens cannot let the reckless actions by him and his legal team stand," Corker said Friday on Twitter. "Republicans have an obligation when the subject is of such importance to challenge demagoguery and patently false statements."
Information for this article was contributed by Lisa Mascaro and Jonathan Mattise of The Associated Press.