Biden talks immigration, climate and the Senate in 1st interview since election

Biden talks immigration, climate and the Senate in 1st interview since election

Joe Biden said Tuesday that he will focus on undoing President Trump’s policies on immigration and climate change during his first 100 days in office.

In his first interview since the Nov. 3 election, the president-elect told NBC News’ Lester Holt that his agenda will include sending an immigration bill to Congress and doing away with what he called Trump’s “damaging” executive orders on the environment, which Biden said “eviscerated the [Environmental Protection Agency].”

“Some of it is gonna depend on the kind of cooperation I can or cannot get from Congress,” Biden said.

“But I am going to make a commitment in the first 100 days I will send an immigration bill to the United States Senate with a pathway to citizenship for over 11 million undocumented people in America,” he continued.

Asked about his cabinet picks — all of whom so far have been former senior members of the Obama administration — Biden insisted that “this is not a third Obama term.”

“This is not a third Obama term because there’s — we — we face a totally different world than we faced in the Obama/Biden administration,” he said. “The president this — President Trump has changed the landscape. It’s become America first, it’s been America alone.”

The picks represent “the spectrum of the American people, as well as the spectrum of the Democratic Party,” he said — adding that he’d consider choosing a Republican for a cabinet post.

“We still have a lot more appointments to make. I want this country to be united,” Biden said.

The former vice president also indicated that it’s unlikely progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will join his administration, saying pulling someone from Congress “is really a difficult decision” since he’ll need their support for his agenda.

“We already have significant representation among progressives,” in the cabinet, Biden insisted, adding that he has “a very ambitious, very progressive agenda. And it’s gonna take really strong leaders in the House and Senate to get it done.”

The Democrat said he’d also work on sending federal aid to state and local governments “to keep them from basically going under” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Multiple things are going to have to be taking place at the same time,” Biden said.

“This is more than just a financial crisis, it’s a crisis that is causing real mental stress for millions of people,” he continued. “It is within our power to solve it, and to grow the economy at the same time.”

And he pledged not to use the Justice Department to go after Trump, when the president leaves office.

“I’m focused on getting the American public back in a place where they have some certainty, some surety, some knowledge that they can make it,” Biden said.

“The middle class and working-class people are being crushed. That’s my focus.”

Biden said there’s a lot of work to be done over the next two months about how to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s approved.

“I think we should also be focusing on being able to open schools as rapidly as we can,” he said, adding, “I think it can be done safely.”

He then dodged a question about the decision of some cities, such as New York, to shutter schools but keep restaurants open, saying only, “I think we should be able to do both.”

Biden cited a phone call he had with Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday about the nation’s largest school district and how “it costs tens of millions of dollars to be able to safely open the schools.”

Asked about the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers over the last year, Biden said that “there has to be accountability.”

He said his White House will be working with police departments and civil rights organizations to determine how to “move forward” and “bring people together.”

“The only people who dislike bad cops more than the community are cops. A vast majority of them are straight, honest and responsible,” he said, “and the last thing they need is bad cops — cops who are [sic] act out. And so, there has to be accountability.”