The Latest: Biden's picks point to their diverse backgrounds

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President-elect Joe Biden, right, and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, left, listen as Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, the Biden administration's choice to be the housing and urban development secretary, speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Friday, Dec. 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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

3:55 p.m.

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Several of the latest picks announced by President-elect Joe Biden are emphasizing the diversity of the backgrounds as they prepare to join an administration Biden has promised will reflect the varied experiences of Americans.

During an announcement of her nomination to lead Biden’s Domestic Policy Council, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice noted that she was the great-granddaughter of slaves and Jamaican immigrants. She pledged to unsully an American dream she said “has become an empty promise, a cruel mockery of lives held back by barriers.”

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, Biden’s pick to lead Housing and Urban Development, who would be the second Black woman ever to do so, began with greetings to her sisters in Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.

Katherine Tai, nominated to serve as U.S. trade representative, told the story of her parents’ emigration from Taiwan and said her heart “swelled with pride” when she and another first-generation American woman presented a trade case together.

Tom Vilsack, Biden’s pick to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture, noted he grew up in an orphanage near Pittsburgh. He said he feels “enormously lucky and grateful to live in a country where paths like mine are possible.”


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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