Biden calls on US Congress to pass emergency COVID-19 aid

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US President-elect Joe Biden met with top Democrats to discuss a plan to tackle the surging COVID-19 pandemic.
United States President-elect Joe Biden is pushing for Congress to enact billions of dollars in emergency COVID-19 assistance before the end of the year, as new infections are surging across the country.

Saying there is "a lot of work to do", Biden met in-person on Friday with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer for the first time since winning the presidential election, according to a media pool report.

The incoming Democratic president hosted the top Democrats in Congress at his makeshift transition headquarters at a theatre in downtown Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden transition aide Jen Psaki said the Democrats are "in lockstep agreement that there needs to be emergency assistance and aid during the lame-duck session to help families, to help small businesses".

"There's no more room for delay and we need to move forward as quickly as possible," Psaki said.

But prospects for new virus aid this year remain uncertain, despite surging numbers of new cases and hospitalisations.

The US has now reported more than 11.8 million cases and more than 253,000 deaths since the pandemic began, according to Johns Hopkins University.

For the first time since the election, Biden met House Speaker Pelosi Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at his makeshift headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware [Alex Brandon/ AP Photo] Pelosi said talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican leaders on November 19 did not produce any consensus on a new virus aid package. "That didn't happen, but hopefully it will," she said.

McConnell proposed that Congress shift $455bn of unspent small business lending funds…
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