Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is leading weekly COVID-19 conference calls because President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been absent from them, according to Real Clear Politics (RCP).
All 50 U.S. governors join a conference call every Tuesday to discuss federal and state responses to COVID-19, with Cuomo leading as chairman of the National Governors Association, RCP reported. Although the calls come from within the Biden administration, the president and vice president do not join them. Biden, in fact, has not joined one weekly call since he took office, the report stated.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki justified Cuomo’s role, saying, “there were operational aspects of the way the last administration approached COVID and approached the distribution of vaccines or approached planning and engagement with governors that wasn’t working,” according to RCP.
“It would go a long way if the president would just get on the phone, or the vice president would get on the phone and take questions. Allow us to ask the folks in charge questions,” Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu told RCP.
Republican Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts told the outlet that “Vice President Harris has only been on one, but that was for about five minutes and she didn’t take any questions.”
Ricketts also complained that Biden’s failure to participate in the meetings shows a lack of the bipartisanship that he promised. “It really is much more of a top-down, we-are-going-to-do-what-we-are-going-to-do thought process,” Ricketts said.
Former Vice President Mike Pence led 39 of the 40 COVID-19 calls while former President Trump was present for eight, according to RCP. Harris has instead focused on different issues, such as the border crisis.