Politics live updates: Top congressional leaders to meet on COVID stimulus, spending

USA TODAY's coverage of the 2020 election and President-elect Joe Biden's transition continues this week as he rolls out more of his picks for top jobs in his administration and prepares to take the oath of office Jan. 20. The Electoral College affirmed Biden's win Monday, officially giving Biden enough electoral votes to defeat President Donald Trump. Congress will count and certify the results in a joint session Jan. 6. 

Trump has cleared the way for Biden's team to use federal resources and get briefings during the transition, although Trump has yet to formally concede the race and continues to challenge the results. 

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the election and the transition.

Top lawmakers to meet as government faces shutdown deadline

Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate are set to meet Tuesday afternoon on COVID-19 relief and government funding as Congress faces a Friday shutdown deadline.

The leaders, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are racing to resolve differences in a massive package to fund the government through next October and to close a deal on relief for Americans grappling with the coronavirus pandemic. 

A breakthrough could be near on stimulus. After months of impasse, a bipartisan group of lawmakers rolled out the latest iteration of their stimulus proposal Monday afternoon, breaking apart a $908 billion proposal into two bills. One bill contains $748 billion of programs with broader support like small business loan forgiveness and unemployment insurance. Having failed to reach consensus among themselves on all the issues, the lawmakers shifted thornier programs like aid for state and local governments and liability protections for companies into a smaller $160 billion bill.

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, one of the senators who brought together the compromise proposal, told reporters Monday it was possible the $160 billion portion could be jettisoned altogether from this bill and resolved in January when Congress took up new COVID-19 relief legislation. If senators wanted to include stimulus checks in the legislation, he said, congressional leaders could put the $160 billion towards the payments.

Lawmakers have until Friday to reach a deal on stimulus if they want to include it in the government funding package, likely one of the last bills to pass Congress this year.

– Nicholas Wu

Mitch McConnell congratulates Joe Biden for election win

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recognized former Vice President Joe Biden as the president-elect during a 10-minute-long speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“The Electoral College has spoken,” McConnell said, saying he wanted to “congratulate the President-elect Joe Biden” and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Noting Harris’ historic win as the first female vice president, McConnell said, “beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president for the very first time.”

Following Monday’s Electoral College vote, Republican lawmakers have slowly started to accept Biden as president-elect, though some lawmakers said they wanted to wait for Congress to certify the Electoral College results on Jan. 6.

– Nicholas Wu

Immigration, criminal-justice advocates to rally for Biden’s attention in Wilmington

Hundreds of advocates plan to rally Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware, to encourage President-elect Joe Biden to take action during his first 100 days in office that would benefit immigrants, overhaul the criminal-justice system and assist Puerto Rico.

Participants are traveling from seven states and Washington, D.C., for the 1 p.m. EST rally and news conference in Rodney Square, according to organizers from groups including Make the Road Action, CASA in Action, the Center for Popular Democratic Action and FIRM Action.

The rally coincides with Biden traveling to Georgia to campaign for Democrats in two Senate runoff elections. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are defending their seats against Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively, with control of the Senate at stake.

Biden’s plans for immigration include restoring protections for young people who arrived with their undocumented parents, removing Trump administration restrictions on asylum and a 100-day moratorium on deportations.

His plans for the criminal-justice system aim to reduce incarceration and eliminate racial disparities in the system. Biden has called for debt relief for Puerto Rico and an audit of the territory’s finances.

Biden has also been naming a diverse group of senior advisers to deal with those issues.

But advocates will press for broader action, based on Biden winning the White House with significant support from Black and Latino vo.

The groups seek a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants nationwide, a goal that has proven too contentious and elusive for Congress to resolve for decades. The groups urge criminal-justice reforms to reduce incarceration and invest in communities. And the groups advocate canceling Puerto Rico’s debt.

– Bart Jansen

After Electoral College Win, Biden to stump for Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock in Georgia

After his Electoral College victory Monday, Biden heads to Georgia Tuesday to campaign for Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who are challenging the state’s Republican senators in a runoff election.

Biden is returning to Georgia on its second day of early voting. Biden won the traditionally red state this year, making him the first Democratic presidential candidate to capture the state since 1992.  

The Jan. 5 runoff election in Georgia will determine the control of the Senate. Democrats could gain control of both chambers of Congress if Ossoff and Warnock win their elections against Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler.

The president as well as Vice President Mike Pence also traveled to Georgia last week, both campaigning for the incumbent senators.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

President-elect Joe Biden arrives with wife Jill Biden to deliver remarks on the Electoral college certification at the Queen Theatre in Wilmington, Delaware, on Monday.

Putin congratulates Biden for election win

Russia's leader Vladimir Putin on Tuesday finally acknowledged President-elect Joe Biden's victory on Monday, saying he "wished the president-elect every success" and was "ready for interaction and contact."

The Kremlin, which has decried what it's called Biden’s "sharp anti-Russian rhetoric" but praised the president-elect's comments on arms control, previously said it preferred to wait until the election results were official before congratulating a winner. The Electoral College affirmed Biden's win in a Monday vote. 

Putin was one of the last world leaders who had not acknowledged Biden's victory. President Donald Trump is still refusing to concede the election. Many Republican lawmakers have followed Trump's lead and not publicly endorsed Biden's victory.

In a telegram sent to Biden – published by Russian state media – Russia's longtime leader "expressed confidence that Russia and the U.S., who bear special responsibility for global security and stability, can facilitate resolution of many problems and challenges faced by the world now despite disagreements."

– Kim Hjelmgaard

Putin:Russian leader Vladimir Putin congratulates Joe Biden on winning election

Biden, Harris win Electoral College

The Electoral College elected Joe Biden as the next president Monday, formalizing the former Democratic vice president's win in the Nov. 3 election as President Donald Trump continues a long-shot effort to try to overturn the outcome. 

Around 5:30 p.m. EST, California's 55 electors cast their ballots to push Biden over the 270-vote threshold needed to win.

Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, the vice president-elect, received 306 electoral votes overall, topping Trump’s 232 votes. Next, the electoral votes will be counted at a special joint session of Congress on Jan. 6 before Biden and Harris are inaugurated Jan. 20.

– Joey Garrison and Rebecca Morin

Biden, Harris win Electoral College:Joe Biden officially passes 270-vote threshold to win Electoral College on California's vote

What happens next?:Joe Biden won the Electoral College. Here's what happens next in the election process