Biden: Covid aid depends on Georgia Senate victories for Warnock, Ossoff

President-elect Joe Biden warned in a new ad that his plan to beat the coronavirus pandemic hinges on two Democrats winning a Georgia runoff that will determine which party controls the Senate.

"There are folks in Congress threatening to do everything in their power to block our efforts," Biden said in a straight-to-camera appeal for Georgia voters to elect Democratic Senate hopefuls Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.

The one-minute ad, produced by the Ossoff and Warnock campaigns, debuted Thursday, less than three weeks before the Jan. 5 runoff elections in the Peach State. The election will determine which party will take control of the Senate. The ad, Biden's first in support of Warnock and Ossoff, also came days after early voting kicked off in the state.

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Georgia Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue need to hold their seats for the GOP to maintain its edge in the chamber. The tight races have become the nation's key political battleground following Biden's victory over President Donald Trump.

If Ossoff and Warnock win, each party will have 50 seats and Vice President Kamala Harris will be the tie breaker.

Biden campaigned in person in Georgia this week, while Trump traveled there earlier in December to host a rally for Loeffler and Perdue, who face Warnock and Ossoff, respectively. Vice President Mike Pence is set to fly to the state on Thursday to deliver remarks.

Biden has put forward a detailed outline for how his administration will tackle the coronavirus pandemic when he takes office on Jan. 20. But he warned in the ad that without a Democratic majority in the Senate, his Day 1 plan won't happen.

"Georgia, I know things are tough right now. But I want you to know, help is on the way," Biden said in the ad.

"My administration is preparing to beat Covid-19, and bring economic relief to the American people. On Day 1 as your president, I'm prepared to sign a Covid relief package that fully funds the public health response needed, led by Georgia's own CDC. It will ensure testing and vaccination for every American, and will get small businesses the assistance they need right now," he said.

"Let me be clear: I need Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in the United States Senate to get this done," Biden warned. "There are folks in Congress threatening to do everything in their power to block our efforts."

"We need you to get out there and vote for Jon Ossoff as well as Raphael Warnock. We need them in the Senate. God bless America and God bless our troops," Biden said.

The all-important races come in the midst of the most dire phase of the pandemic yet experienced in the United States.

As health officials had warned, a record surge of cases arrived with the onset of winter, leading to new highs in hospitalizations. On Monday, the U.S surpassed the tragic milestone of 300,000 deaths from the virus. The worsening crisis follows months of failure on Capitol Hill to negotiate an additional Covid relief package.

Partisan feuding over the terms of a deal stalled the delivery of much-needed aid for Americans whose livelihoods and businesses have been devastated by the virus and the harsh restrictions imposed by state leaders aiming to slow the spread of illness. Lawmakers have signaled this week that they are finally nearing an agreement.

Trump, who is refusing to concede to Biden and is falsely claiming he won reelection, has largely ignored the shocking rise in deaths and cases. Rather, Trump is emphasizing the rollout of vaccines, including Pfizer's, which was recently approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.

But the vaccines, despite their record development time, will not instantly free the U.S. from Covid's grip. White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, who will be joining the Biden administration next month, said Wednesday that the nation could return to some semblance of normality by mid-fall of 2021 if enough people are vaccinated.

Georgia, like other states, is experiencing its highest Covid case numbers to date. Biden focused on the pandemic when he traveled to the state on Tuesday — the president-elect's first time campaigning since defeating Trump — to stump for Warnock and Ossoff.

"We need funding for testing and vaccine distribution. We need to get money into people's pockets right away," Biden said at a drive-in rally in Atlanta.

"We can get so much done that would make the lives of the people of Georgia and the country so much better, and we need senators who are willing to do it."

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