FILE - President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris.
FILE - President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris.

WASHINGTON - Democrat Joe Biden, the projected winner of the long and contentious U.S. presidential election over Republican President Donald Trump, moved quickly Sunday to start preparations to take over the U.S. government when he is inaugurated January 20 and reverse some key Trump policies. 

President-elect Biden and his running mate, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, launched a website for their transition to power, saying they would immediately focus on the coronavirus pandemic, the recession in the world’s biggest economy wrought by the pandemic, climate change and systemic racism. 

“We are preparing to lead on Day One, ensuring the Biden-Harris administration is able to take on the most urgent challenges we face: protecting and preserving our nation's health, renewing our opportunity to succeed, advancing racial equity, and fighting the climate crisis.” 

They declared, “We stand together as one America. We will rise stronger than we were before.” 

Aides say that on his first days in office, Biden plans for the United States to rejoin the Paris climate accord that Trump withdrew from and reverse Trump’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization. 

Biden plans to repeal the ban on almost all travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and to reinstate the program that allows young people, often called “Dreamers,” who were brought illegally into the U.S. as children, to remain in the country.

Watch related video by Michelle Quinn

Biden Moves Forward on Transition While Trump Contests Votes

During the campaign, Biden also said he plans to rejoin the international accord to restrain Iran’s nuclear weapons development that Trump rebuked and pulled the U.S. from. 

U.S. transitions in power can often bring swift policy shifts but the one from Trump to Biden could be among the most jarring in recent U.S. political history. 

One Biden aide told CNN, “Across the board we will continue laying the foundation for the incoming Biden-Harris administration to successfully restore faith and trust in our institutions and lead the federal government." 

During his four years in the White House, Trump has often delighted in pushing aside political norms, and the likely end of his effort to win a second four-year term in the White House after the 2020 campaign is no different.  

Trump has not conceded

He has declined to concede or call Biden. 

Trump is contesting the outcome through lawsuits, claiming, without evidence, that vote-counting irregularities in several states where Biden won narrow pluralities and all their electoral votes, would reverse the result and hand him a second term. 

The Trump campaign is pursuing multiple court cases starting Monday, although there were scant reports of irregularities during last Tuesday’s voting or in the days of vote counting since then, tabulations that are still going on in numerous states even though the outcome in almost all the country’s 50 states is not in doubt. 

Majority of electoral votes

A majority of 270 votes in the country’s 538-member Electoral College, with the most populous states holding the most sway, determines the outcome of U.S. presidential elections, not the national popular vote even as Biden currently holds a 4-million vote edge in the national vote count. 

Biden passed the 270-vote Electoral College majority threshold on Saturday when it became apparent, he had amassed a narrow, but decisive popular vote lead in the eastern state of Pennsylvania and won its 20 electoral votes.  

At that point, all major television news organizations, including Trump favorite Fox News, and leading newspapers, declared Biden the winner. 

Trump has railed against the outcome, while praising himself Saturday on Twitter, saying, “71,000,000 Legal Votes. The most EVER for a sitting President!” 

Biden currently has 75.2 million votes. 

U.S. President Donald Trump enters the Presidential motorcade before traveling to an undisclosed location at the south portico of the White House in Washington, Nov. 8, 2020.

Back on golf course

Trump played golf again Sunday for the second straight day, while retweeting election fraud claims from supporters, such as one from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who said, “We believe these people are thieves. The big city machines are corrupt. This was a stolen election.” 

Twitter said Gingrich’s claim “about election fraud is disputed.” 

Trump was greeted at the golf course he owns in Virginia outside Washington by a handful of people, including two holding Trump 2020 signs. But another sign said, “Orange Crushed.” 

Supporters of President-Elect Joe Biden display signs of protest as the motorcade of U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, Nov. 8, 2020.

Americans celebrate Biden-Harris victory

Thousands of people massed in the streets in large Democratic-dominated cities across the country on Saturday to celebrate Trump’s defeat, including in Washington, outside the White House. Some shouted, “You’re fired,” Trump’s signature line from his one-time television reality show, “The Apprentice,” before he won the presidency in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

People react as they watch a speech by Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Americans React to Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Election Win
After clinching win in Pennsylvania to collect 273 electoral votes, former vice president becomes country's oldest president ever

Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, who is leading the bipartisan effort planning the January 20 inauguration, said it “seems unlikely” that vote projections showing Biden as the presidential winner would change in the coming days. 

But he told ABC’s “This Week” show it was reasonable for Republicans to wait a little longer for state election officials to tabulate the official outcome and in some cases, such as in the southern state of Georgia where Biden leads narrowly, to conduct a recount. 

@Transition46

Biden and Harris launched Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts using the handle @Transition46, a reference that Biden will be the country’s 46th president in its 244-year history. 

On the Biden-Harris website, BuildBackBetter.com, he said, "We’ll rise stronger than we were before. We will act on the first day of my presidency to get COVID under control. We will act to pass my economic plan that will finally reward work, not wealth, in this country. We’ll act to restore faith in our democracy and our faith in one another.  

“We’ll once more become one nation, under God, indivisible, a nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed,” he said. 

Biden, during the vitriolic campaign, regularly assailed Trump for his handling of the pandemic as the death toll of Americans rose to a world-leading total of 237,000, according to the Johns Hopkins University. The president-elect plans to announce a COVID-19 task force on Monday to map out a plan to curb the infection when he takes office, and frequently has called on Americans to wear face masks, as health experts have adamantly urged. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.

FILE - Artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg walks among thousands of white flags planted in remembrance of Americans who have died of COVID-19 near Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington.

Record-breaking coronavirus deaths

On Saturday, the United States recorded more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases for the fourth consecutive day. 

The Biden-Harris transition website lays out a seven-point plan against the coronavirus, including "regular, reliable, and free testing" for all Americans, an "effective, equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines" once they become available and an attempt to implement a nationwide mask mandate that many oppose as an intrusion on their individual freedom. 

"The American people deserve an urgent, robust, and professional response to the growing public health and economic crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak," the website reads. 

The website said it would also address racial inequity and police reform in the U.S. by working with Congress to institute a "nationwide ban on chokeholds" during police arrests of criminal suspects, stop "the transfer of weapons of war to police forces," establish a "model use of force standard" and create a "national police oversight commission." 

The Biden-Harris website also said, “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many." 

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.