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Democrat Joe Biden was sworn in as the United States of America's 46th president on Jan. 20, 2021. This series, started before his inauguration, covers the efforts of Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to build their administration.

Biden Says Trump's Refusal To Concede Won't Impede Transition

President-elect Joe Biden addresses the media Tuesday in Wilmington, Del., about the Trump administration's lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Joe Raedle
Getty Images
President-elect Joe Biden addresses the media Tuesday in Wilmington, Del., about the Trump administration's lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act.

President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday called President Trump's refusal to concede the election "an embarrassment," but said that it hasn't yet been a hindrance to his team moving forward with the transition process.

"We're well underway," Biden told reporters following remarks in Wilmington, Del. "The ability for the administration in any way by failure to recognize our win does not change the dynamic at all of what we're able to do."

Trump has rejected Biden's Electoral College victory, which was called by news organizations Saturday after he won the critical state of Pennsylvania. The president's team has tried to challenge the election results with lawsuits but most have failed.

Biden, who has urged Americans to "lower the temperature" on political discourse, spoke softly Tuesday, repeatedly telling reporters that the actions of the current White House occupant aren't slowing him down.

"We're going to do exactly what we'd be doing if [Trump] had conceded and said we've won, which we have," Biden said.

But Biden cannot move into any government office space or receive government funding for the transition, because the General Services Administration has yet to formally determine that Biden won the election.

Still, Biden on Monday named experts to his transition COVID-19 advisory board, and right after Tuesday's news conference, the campaign announced dozens of people who will begin evaluating operations of various federal agencies. Biden also suggested that he would make a couple of Cabinet announcements before Thanksgiving.

Trump is the first president in the modern TV era not to make a concession speech or call his opponent after the election is called.

Asked what he would say to Trump himself, Biden looked directly into the camera and said, "Mr. President, I look forward to speaking with you."

Health care remarks

Biden began by delivering remarks about the Affordable Care Act, which is once again before the Supreme Court.

He upbraided the Trump administration, which is backing the case, for its attempt to invalidate the ACA, calling it "simply cruel."

"This argument will determine whether health care coverage of more than 20 million Americans who acquired it under the Affordable Care Act will be ripped away in the middle of the nation's worst pandemic," Biden said.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also spoke, calling the case before the court "a blatant attempt to overturn the will of the people," and noting that she and Biden campaigned on protecting the ACA and won the presidential election with the most votes in the history of the United States.

On Tuesday, two of the Supreme Court's conservative justices — John Roberts and Brett Kavanaugh — appeared to suggest that they will vote to preserve the bulk of the ACA, even if the individual mandate is found to be unconstitutional.

Tuesday marked the third time the landmark health care law has been before the Supreme Court.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.