Biden transition team’s work underway, not waiting for winner to be declared – Fox News

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As the country awaited a winner in the presidential election, Joe Biden’s transition team was mapping out what it will do if the Democratic nominee becomes president-elect. 

Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich has learned that the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 230,000 Americans, will be the team’s immediate focus. 

Ted Kaufman, who served on Biden’s staff for 22 years and was appointed to fill his vacated Senate seat when he was elected vice president in 2008, is leading the transition team. 

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Kaufman started preparing for the job in April, shortly after Biden locked up the Democratic nomination.

“All governments, especially in the post 9/11 era, are at their most vulnerable during a transfer of power. I was keenly aware of this when I was part of the team in charge of the Obama-Biden transition in 2008,” Kaufman wrote in the Delaware News Journal in 2015.

“I realized there was not nearly enough time between an Election Day in November and an inauguration day in January to adequately prepare for a new presidency.”

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Former staffers for two of Biden’s primary opponents, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, were laying the groundwork for a potential Biden administration.

The team is also staffed with top aides from the Obama administration, such as former Deputy National Security Adviser Avril Haines and former director of the White House National Economic Council Jeffrey Zients. 

The advisory board includes at least two Republicans, Cindy McCain and former Veteran Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald.

While the team’s top priority is countering the coronavirus pandemic, stimulating the economy with another relief package was also top of mind. 

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But Kaufman already tempered expectations about grandiose spending plans. 

“When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare,” Kaufman told the Wall Street Journal in August. “When you see what Trump’s done to the deficit … forget about Covid-19, all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we’re going to be limited.”

Biden’s transition team also will be watching the remaining Senate elections closely, as 1,200 of a president’s 4,000 appointees have to be approved by the upper chamber of Congress. If Democrats get control of the Senate, potential Biden appointees could have much more leeway during hearings. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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