Photo: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee
Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey / AP
Published January 13, 2021
Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Lee has stated that his administration has begun working with the transition team of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
Lee said on Friday that he hopes the Biden administration will help provide COVID-19 relief to Tennesseans stating that Tennessee faces a limited supply of vaccines and high positivity rate for new cases.
Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey stated that “We can’t control the supply, so we order every single dose that is made available to us as soon as it’s made available, then get it in an arm as soon as it gets in the state.”
On Thursday Lee spoke with Biden’s transition team and discussed needs for supply of vaccines and therapeutics, “flexibility” in federal funding to provide COVID-19-related relief and ways to provide mass testing and vaccination for Tennesseans.
“As things have changed on the ground, we’ve changed because we meet together daily about what adjustments we need to make.” Lee said.
“We don’t have enough vaccines. That has created anxiety. That has created frustration. It has created long lines,” Lee stated, ” It has created a misunderstanding about what vaccines are available and what we should be doing to make sure everyone who wants one gets one.”
The conversation with the Biden transition team also included participation from other state governors from Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina.
Lee stated that the focus of the call was about potential regional approaches to the pandemic and how different states may be able to work together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“As the Biden administration prepares to take the helm … I look forward to working together in the coming days to make sure that we get the best outcomes for Tennesseans,” Lee said.
Prior to Friday, January 8th, Lee had not publicly acknowledged that Biden won the presidency.
Governor Lee was among many Republicans nationwide who did not support Biden ascending to the presidency, however, following the protests in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday of last week, Lee apparently changed his mind.
In a statement shared on Twitter, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said: “The violence happening in our nation’s capitol is inexcusable and an affront to our founding principles and freedoms. I stand with our Tennessee delegation that order must be restored immediately and thank law enforcement for their professionalism.”
In a previous statement, Lee had said that he was waiting until the process of certification and legal challenges played out before acknowledging Biden as President-elect.
In his support of the Tennessee delegation, it would seem Lee assumed the same perspective as Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty when they reversed their objections to the Electoral College results.
However, several Tennessee State Representatives did not waiver and followed through with their objections including Tim Burchett, Scott Desjarlais, Chuck Fleischmann, Mark Green, Diana Harsbarger and John Rose.
On Thursday, January 9th, other top GOP in the state acknowledged Biden’s win including Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and Secretary of State Tre Hargett.
“Disagreements occur on policy, on politics, but my goal will be to be thoughtful and principled and wise in the days ahead as we work with this new administration, because that’s what our country needs the most,” Lee said.