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Business leaders praise new Biden administration for quick COVID action pledge

January 20, 2021, 10:07 PM UTC

That didn’t take long.

The Business Roundtable, an influential association of the chief executive officers of almost 200 of America’s biggest companies, sent out a congratulatory statement to the newly installed Biden administration on Wednesday to praise it for its pledge to act quickly in taming the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, whose members include the chiefs of companies such as Walmart, JPMorgan Chase, and Boeing, sent out the statement soon after the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris ended.

The new administration has set out to vaccinate 100 million Americans in its first 100 days, an ambitious goal but one welcomed by corporate America. The pandemic so far has killed more than 400,000 Americans and overwhelmed hospitals nationwide, and also wrought enormous destruction to the U.S. economy, particularly in sectors such as retail and food service.

“We applaud the new Administration for taking swift action to bring an end to the pandemic, including by developing a strong national plan to scale up vaccination,” the Business Roundtable’s CEO Joshua Bolten said in a statement.

The previous administration, led by Donald Trump, often denied the severity of the pandemic, or was disorganized in coordinating a response, to the frustration of many business leaders including the CEOs of Walmart and Macy’s, among others.

The Biden administration on Wednesday earned an offer of help toward its goal from Amazon.com, to help with logistics, in addition to one from Starbucks earlier this week.

Also this week, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, chairman of the Business Roundtable, echoed the sense of urgency big business feels about taming the pandemic. “The incoming Biden Administration and Congress have the opportunity to turn the corner on this pandemic,” he said. “Addressing the health crisis has to be the top priority.”

The Business Roundtable, and other business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, had soured on the ostensibly pro-business Trump administration in the wake of the violent mob attack on the Capitol two weeks ago and harshly criticized Trump for inciting his supporters. And after some senior Republicans led an effort to overturn the Nov. 3 election results, many large companies said they would pull back on political donations as a result.

With a new administration in place, business leaders have called for improvements to the immigration system, focus on renewing infrastructure, support for Americans in dire financial straits because of the pandemic, and efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change, in addition to accelerating the vaccine rollout.

“We welcome President Biden’s action to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. It is critical that the United States restore its leadership role in international efforts to address the climate challenge,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.