White House chief of staff Ron Klain is defending differing descriptions of the coronavirus vaccination distribution plan President Biden inherited when he was sworn into office last Wednesday.
Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease specialist, contradicted an unnamed Biden administration source who told CNN the new president’s team was “starting from scratch” when it came to the post-inauguration COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.
But on Sunday, Klain said Fauci’s insistence that they were not “starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution” didn’t make the earlier comment untrue or incorrect.
“I think those two statements actually reconcile more than you might think,” Klain told NBC. “But the process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals, out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House.”
For Klain, “the fundamental difference” between the Biden and Trump administrations regarding the virus was that Biden will “take responsibility at the federal government.”
“We’re going to own this problem,” he said, working with states to set up federal vaccination sites, ramp up production of supplies and equipment, and push Congress for more funding.
As part of that push, Biden is looking to shore up support for his $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan.”
Biden’s chief economic adviser, Brian Deese, will “make the case” for more relief during a Sunday phone call with a bipartisan group of 16 centrist senators and two House lawmakers. Congress passed a $900 billion aid package last month.
The pandemic isn’t Biden’s only priority. Only two of Biden’s Cabinet nominees have been confirmed before the House sends the Senate former President Donald Trump’s impeachment article on Monday. The move triggers the start of his trial.
Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley placed a hold on Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas. The hold delays Mayorkas’s confirmation, so Hawley can receive more information concerning Biden’s border policies.
“I wish we could get a little less Republican blocking on Secretary-designate Mayorkas. It is very important to have a head of Homeland Security,” Klain said Sunday.