It's been one full week since Election Day, but the results of the 2020 presidential election are hardly settled. President Donald Trump will not concede to President-elect Joe Biden, and he has support from the Republican party to pause the transfer of power. GBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with Congresswoman Katherine Clark about what happens now, and how lawmakers can help unite Americans in this contentious time. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.
Joe Mathieu: For starters, congratulations on your re-election last week in the Fifth District.
Rep. Katherine Clark: Well, thank you. It is an incredible honor to be able to continue to represent Massachusetts' Fifth, and I am looking forward to this session ahead. We certainly have great challenges, but there's renewed optimism and hope. The American people chose hope when they elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and they voted for truth, science, equality and democracy. And we are eager to get to work.
Mathieu: With that next session in mind, I'd love to ask you now that Mitch McConnell is coming to the president's defense in the Senate in not conceding, is there a role the House can take to compel the administration to at least begin the transition process — have the GSA [General Services Administration] sign the necessary paperwork so Joe Biden's team can get in place?
Clark: Well, let's be clear: there is not a shred of evidence of anything but a legal, smooth-running, fair election, and it is appalling to see that Attorney General Barr continues to act as a prosecutor for the president's private grievances and continues to strip the justice out of justice. But we are seeing that the institutions that are here to protect our elections are working, and we have to keep the public pressure on the Republicans to make sure that we see through this veil of lies about the election and that we protect the Americans' vote and understand the integrity of it. Part of what I am optimistic and excited about is that we now have a president who is going to join the House Democrats in putting the focus back on the American people and that we can leave this time of division and lies and misinformation that is given to the American people behind, and that we can — along with this new administration — rebuild our trust in democracy and each other. And that's where the House Democrats have been. In the last session, we passed over 400 bills, and we know how to get solutions across the finish line in the House. Now we have an ally in the White House who's going to help us in that work. And just one example, it was almost a year ago that we passed a prescription drug bill that would help Americans lower the cost of prescription drugs that they struggle with and expand access to health care for them.
Mathieu: Well, Congresswoman, it sounds like we have to wait for this legal process to unfold here. I just wonder, how does the country move ahead if half of its people think an election was stolen?
Clark: We do have a divided country, but what we have to do is the work that we've been doing: put the American people first, put the issues of health care and access to it, crushing this pandemic, rebuilding our economy in an inclusive way, rebuilding our roads and bridges and infrastructure, and addressing structural racism in this country.
Mathieu: And does all of that have to wait for the next session? I ask you that because we still don't have an economic stimulus plan. We thought we were days away at one point a couple of weeks ago. Is that dead until after the inauguration for millions of unemployed Americans?
Clark: These issues Joe Biden started working on today and yesterday. He has already put together a transition team of scientists. He is already talking about helping us get this prescription drug law signed by the president and through the Senate. Our work has begun for this new presidency, but it has never stopped in having our focus on the American people and meeting their needs. And at this time where we are seeing a resurgence of this pandemic, this work is so critical and we are going to continue to do the work that we've been doing. You've seen some of the bills we had meet with success. We passed a minimum wage law that was also just passed by the voters of Florida. If we keep everyday Americans and the challenges that they're facing in our focus, we are going to be able to unite this country and rebuild the trust that we need to have a thriving democracy.
Mathieu: Congresswoman Clark, the prospect of uniting is obviously something that a lot of Americans are hopeful for. Can you do that if we don't have the traditional structure that we're used to with a transition? There's a good chance that Donald Trump will not be on the steps of the Capitol on the day of the inauguration. Are you concerned that people are not going to move on?
Clark: There's been one fraud in this election, and that's Donald Trump. And it has been obvious from shortly into his term that he was not going to put the American people first. Let's just look at today. In the middle of a pandemic, Donald Trump has brought a case to take away health care from 23 million Americans into the Supreme Court. What this new administration and the House majority offer is a change of course. Let's go back to being truthful, following science, addressing climate change, health care and racial justice — these issues that are so divisive, but they are only divisive in a political realm. The American people understand what's at stake. And if we put them first, if we take the issues they talk about around their kitchen table and put them back on the leadership table, that's what's going to build success and unify this country. That's the work that we've been doing since we took the majority in the House, and we will continue to do it, meeting the challenges of this time and setting a course for a bright future.