The Latest: Biden introduces his picks for agriculture, HUD

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President-elect Joe Biden (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden is championing his selection of Tom Vilsack to serve as U.S. agriculture secretary and Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge to be the country’s housing chief, arguing each is the best choice for those positions despite suggestions from some key supporters that Fudge should have been tapped for the agriculture position.

Biden appeared to acknowledge that Friday by saying the congresswoman “could do many jobs beyond the one I’m asking her to do.” But he said Fudge has spent her career fighting for working people on issues, like urban revitalization and affordable housing, that are at the core of the mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, was among those suggesting Fudge should serve as agriculture secretary.

Biden said he was “persistent” in persuading Vilsack to again take on the role he held under President Barack Obama and labeled the former Iowa governor as “the best secretary of agriculture I believe this country’s ever had.”

He said Vilsack was there as America recovered from the economic recession, has a deep knowledge of the department and understands the crisis particularly hitting rural America.

Biden spoke while introducing Vilsack, Fudge and three other top picks for his administration on Friday.


3:05 p.m.

President-elect Joe Biden says the American public should have confidence in a coronavirus vaccine that may soon begin to become available.

Biden said during remarks Friday in Wilmington that combatting the pandemic is “serious business” that requires “presidential leadership.”

On Thursday, a U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, putting the country just one step away from launching an epic vaccination campaign against the outbreak that has killed close to 300,000 Americans.

Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the Food and Drug Administration signs off, as expected, on the expert committee’s recommendation.

Arguing that “there is no political influence” in the vaccine, Biden stressed the scientific research that has “led us to this point.” He also reiterated his “bold and doable” commitment to trying to vaccinate 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of his administration.

Of the virus, Biden said, “We can wish this away, but we need to face it.”



President-elect Joe Biden’s historically challenging transition to power is becoming even more complicated as a federal investigation into his son’s finances threatens to embolden congressional Republicans, who have already shown little willingness to work with him or even acknowledge his clear victory in last month’s election.

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