Nov. 16 (UPI) -- President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said Monday that leaders from both industry and U.S. unions were eager to work together to get the economy back on track and beat the coronavirus.
"We need our workers to get back on the job by getting the virus under control," Biden said in remarks in Wilmington, Del. "I was very encouraged by our conversation."
Biden also said his team was moving forward with naming cabinet members and pulling together plans for the economy and the pandemic, even though President Donald Trump has refused to concede and allow for the present-elect's team to begin coordinating with the federal government.
"It would make it a lot easier if the president would cooperate," Biden noted. "I'm hopeful that the president will be mildly more enlightened before we get to Jan. 20."
Biden said he had spoken with corporate leaders from Microsoft, General Motors and Target, as well as union leaders from the United Auto Workers, AFL-CIO and AFSCME and others, saying the conversation "reinforced what I thought from the beginning. We are ready to come together," to find common ground and a way forward, Biden said.
Biden said corporate leaders agreed that it was vital for Congress and President Trump to move forward with a third stimulus bill, noting that the U.S. House had already passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act in May.
"Once we shut down the virus, we have the opportunity to come out stronger and more resilient," Biden said.
House Democrats have been negotiating, unsuccessfully, for months with members of the Trump White House on a new round of relief aid, which purportedly will include more stimulus payments to Americans.
Republicans have refused to pass the House proposal, saying it is too large and costs too much. Similarly, the House has resisted Senate plans, which have been called "skinny" proposals. Democrats have said they don't go nearly far enough to help struggling Americans.
Biden laid out some of his vision for an economic recovery including making the United States a dominant force in electric vehicles; raising the national minimum wage to $15 per hour; restoring corporate taxes on the largest corporations and making sure that the federal government buys U.S. products.
"No government contract will be given to companies that don't make their products here in America," Biden said.
Biden also had a message for Americans celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas, noting that health experts advised not meeting with more than five other people indoors for holiday gatherings, and asking Americans to wear masks and practice social distancing. Family members should make sure to be tested and quarantine before meeting for family holidays he said.
"I want us to be together next Thanksgiving and next Christmas. We're at war with the virus, it is a war for real."
Biden praised some conservative Republican governors in Utah, North Dakota and Ohio for asking residents to wear masks to stop the spread of the virus.
"We can save 100,000 lives between now and January 1 just by wearing these masks," Biden said.
Coronavirus cases in the United States have surged this month. There have been at least 100,000 new cases every day for almost two weeks. In the past week alone, there have been more than 1 million new cases.
Ron Klain, Biden's White House chief of staff, said Sunday that bipartisan compromise is needed to get a relief deal done between now and when the 117th Congress begins on Jan. 3.
"There's a lot of things that are going to have to wait until Joe Biden is president, but this is not one of them," Klain told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, calling for direct aid to individuals and for local governments.
"This is a national crisis, it needs bipartisan action now."