'So much work to do': How Biden is planning for transition

In this Oct. 18, 2020, photo, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden steps out to board his campaign plane at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville, N.C., en route to Wilmington, Del., as granddaughter Finnegan Biden looks on, right. Biden's biggest challenge may begin the day after Election Day. If he wins, he'll have just over 10 weeks to set up a new government. After making President Donald Trumps handling of the coronavirus pandemic a centerpiece of his campaign, Biden will have to show that his team can better handle the public health crisis.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
In this Oct. 18, 2020, photo, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden steps out to board his campaign plane at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in Morrisville, N.C., en route to Wilmington, Del., as granddaughter Finnegan Biden looks on, right. Biden's biggest challenge may begin the day after Election Day. If he wins, he'll have just over 10 weeks to set up a new government. After making President Donald Trumps handling of the coronavirus pandemic a centerpiece of his campaign, Biden will have to show that his team can better handle the public health crisis. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

WASHINGTON – If Joe Biden defeats President Donald Trump next month, he'll quickly face a new challenge: standing up a new administration to lead a divided nation through a series of historic crises.

After making Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic a centerpiece of his campaign, Biden will have to show that his team can better handle the public health calamity. He will also have to contend with what Democrats say is the damage the Trump administration has done to the bureaucratic machinery in Washington, as well as low morale throughout the civil service.

And he’ll face pressure from liberals to deliver early wins with personnel and Cabinet picks to ensure their buy-in for his big policy fights to come.

With the election less than two weeks away, Biden and his aides are most focused on maintaining his advantage in polls against Trump. "No decisions, from personnel to policy, will be made until after the election,” Biden transition spokesman Cameron French said Wednesday.

Still, some Democrats are beginning to prepare for the challenges that may swiftly unfold once the campaign is over.

“This will be one of the most important, most difficult and yes most costly transitions in modern American history," Chris Korge, the Democratic National Committee's finance chair, warned donors in a recent letter obtained by The Associated Press. “There is so much work to do.”

According to the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization that advises presidential candidates on the transition, Biden will have to name more than 4,000 political appointees to fill out his administration, including more than 1,200 requiring Senate confirmation. There are 700 key executive branch nominations that must go through Senate confirmation, 153 of which are currently vacant.

Chris Lu, executive director of President Barack Obama’s 2008 transition, said there are vacancies in some of the departments that will be key to addressing the country’s standing globally and the climate crisis.