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Sherrod Brown: President-Elect Biden Ready To Tackle COVID Without Trump's Help

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks before the arrival of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at a rally at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Cleveland
Andrew Harnik
Associated Press
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks before the arrival of Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at a rally at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, in Cleveland

Almost a week after Joe Biden was declared the winner, the Trump administration has still refused to admit defeat. Despite that, President-elect Biden is moving forward with plans to take office in January, and he's getting support and assistance from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

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

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

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 says Biden will need the help of Congress to provide funding for those who are unemployed or facing eviction, and wants to see support for local government and schools, "so kids can go back to school safely."

Before Biden takes office, Brown remains hopeful that the Senate will act on a coronavirus relief package already approved by the U.S. 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 presidential transitions. 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," Brown said. "We've never seen a president do this."

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

"I love this job," he said.

But he continues to advise the Biden administration and says he supports Cleveland-area Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who's pursuing an appointment as Secretary of Agriculture.

"She's a senior member of the Agriculture Committee. I think she would do a really good job here," Brown said. "I've been speaking to a number of people about her and will continue to advocate for her."

Brown says there may be other members of Ohio’s congressional delegation considered for positions in the Biden administration.

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.