WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden faced a grueling battle on his road to the White House.
But his challenges aren’t over.
Biden will inherit a nation still facing down the coronavirus pandemic, economic turmoil as a result of the virus, nationwide unrest because of racial injustice and growing concerns over climate change.
And he’ll be dealing with all of them with Republicans likely still holding control of the Senate.
Here are some of the top issues that Biden will face going into the presidency:
The coronavirus pandemic is far from over. Cases are surging across the nation as many states are in their eighth month of enforcing some sort of social distancing guidelines.
A record 121,888 new COVID-19 infections were tallied across the country Thursday. More than 231,000 people in the United States have died from the virus, and more than 9 million Americans have contracted it.
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Throughout the campaign, Biden has laid out some things he would do to combat COVID-19.
He has said he would contact governors to help implement a mask mandate. If they refuse, the former vice president has said he would turn to local officials.
Biden also said he would launch a national plan to expand testing for the virus, implement national guidelines for states to reopen at the guidance of scientists and said the coronavirus vaccine would be free once it’s available.
While experts say at least one vaccine candidate could win FDA approval by year’s end, it could be months to get a vaccine to the more than 300 million people who live in the United States, let alone the 7 billion people across the globe.
Now, as president, Biden will have to actually implement his plan rather than discuss what he would do if he were the commander-in-chief.
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While Biden will need to address the pandemic, he also will need to address the nation’s economic recovery after it was plunged into a recession as result of the pandemic.
During a speech about his COVID-19 response last month, Biden said that if he were elected, he would give Congress one month to get a bill on his desk that included funding to address the public health and economic aspects of combating the virus.
“I’ll reach out to every governor in every state, red and blue, as well as mayors and local officials, during the transition, to find out what support they need and how much of it they need,” Biden said in his speech in October speech.
He added: “I’ll ask the new Congress to put a bill on my desk by the end of January with all the resources necessary so that both our public health response and our economic response can be seen through to the end.”
Biden has not been specific about what his stimulus plan would look like, but he has said: “We should be providing the money the House has passed in order to be able to go out and get people the help they need to keep their businesses open.”
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Congress earlier this year passed a coronavirus stimulus package that included $1,200 stimulus checks for many Americans. But Congress over the past several months has not been able to pass a new round of legislation.
But Biden has laid out a plan for unemployment benefits, saying he would create a health crisis unemployment initiative to help all workers facing a loss of work because of the pandemic, create plans to ensure unemployment benefits are available to those who lose jobs but would be denied benefits for a variety of reasons, extend COVID-19 crisis unemployment insurance, and provide guaranteed emergency paid sick leave and caregiving leave.
Biden’s road to the White House was paved by Black voters, in the primary and in the last several days of the election, when many of Biden’s winning votes came from voters in Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee and Atlanta.
But Black Americans, along with white allies and other people of color, continue to protest in the streets nationwide against police-involved shootings and racial injustice.
Biden, who has publicly used the phrase “Black lives matter,” released a plan that includes an array of policies to address systemic racism, which includes investing in Black-owned small businesses, creating a new tax credit to help Black Americans buy homes, and investing in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The president-elect will need to address racial tensions across the country in the immediate future, and not just point to his plan.
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Stefanie Brown James, who led Obama for America’s effort to engage African American leaders and voters in 2012 and co-founder of Collective PAC, told USA TODAY that activists within the movement aren’t going to remain silent under a Biden presidency.
She said she expects a number of community tasks forces will be developed by the administration, and they must include “community leaders from Black Lives Matter and just Black organizations, period.”
“There will continue to be a push of Biden and Harris to make good on their promises,” she said. “There’s also going to be a larger push for Congress to do the same.”
Just one day after the general election, Biden promised that on Day 1 of his presidency, he would rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, a plan signed under the Obama administration to combat climate change.
Activists will likely want to see more than just signing back on to the Paris agreement from the former vice president once he’s in office.
Over the past several months, multiple hurricanes have hit the U.S. and its territories. In addition, fires have ravaged thousands of miles of land on the West Coast.
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Young voters and progressives will likely push Biden to support policies such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal. Biden does not support the Green New Deal, but he has released his own plan with the goal to get “100% clean energy economy and reaches net-zero emissions no later than 2050.”
Progressives, such as Waleed Shahid, communications director of Justice Democrats, said activists are going to want to see Biden pass a big economic stimulus package that includes funding to address systemic racism and climate change.
“Progressive are going to pay really close attention to how bold, how big his stimulus package is, and whether it will move our country toward solving the huge crisis we’re going through,” he said.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Joe Biden faces COVID-19, economy, racial injustice as new president
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