Leading House Democrats want answers on the status of the presidential transition.
On Thursday, House Oversight Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Credit Committee Chair Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), along with two other veteran Democrats, Gerald Connolly (D-VA) and Mike Quigley (D-IL), required that General Service Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily Murphy inform them by Monday of the delay in the declaration of President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.
The GSA must officially ‘verify’ Biden as the next president for the transition to begin in earnest, a step that would free up funds for the new president and allow his team access to federal agencies and briefings to prepare. to the transfer of power.
In the past, most of the GSA administrators have made their judgments based on media projections, but Murphy has yet to do so, despite Biden being declared the winner by all major US media and legal challenges. of Trump largely fail in court.
“Your actions to block the transitional activities required by law are having serious effects, including undermining the orderly transfer of power, compromising the ability of the new administration to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, hampering its ability to cope to the terrible economic crisis in our country and to national security, ” the representatives wrote in a letter to Murphy Thursday.
The White House denied pressure Murphy to accept the finding. But House Democrats said in their letter that if that was indeed true, then Murphy should “follow the law and proceed with the verification designation without further delay.” The briefing, they added, would help them decide whether Murphy or other GSA executives would be required to testify before Congress.
The GSA did not return Vox’s request for comment.
This push by House Democrats is the latest pressure point on the GSA to initiate the transition. Former national security officials spoke out on how the delay in the transition – particularly President-elect Biden not receiving intelligence briefings – could undermine America’s security.
Former public health officials and medical experts also urged the GSA to start the transition, warning that an extended delay could undermine the next administration’s Covid-19 response and vaccine distribution preparations, potentially endangering the lives of Americans.
After most presidential elections – with the exception of the contested 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore – GSA administrators quickly identified the incoming president after the media called the race and the losing candidate. conceded.
In 2016, for example, Trump was established the day after the election, although his lead was much smaller than Biden’s in 2020. Trump has not admitted defeat and is pursuing legal action, but nothing in the process of verification does not prevent the GSA from declaring Biden the likely winner and starting the transition process while Trump continues to fight in court.
But while Democrats in Congress have demanded the formal transition begin, Republicans have been a little more reckless. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who is retiring this year, said in a statement Friday that “if there is a chance that Joe Biden is the next president, and it looks like he has a very good chance, the Trump administration should provide the Biden team with all the transition materials, resources and meetings needed to ensure a smooth transition so that both parties are ready from day one.
Senator Jim Lankford (R-OK), who said last week he saw “nothing bad” Biden receiving intelligence briefings, said this week that Biden should continue to receive the briefings he received as a candidate, but not the president’s high-level Daily Brief. He said he had spoken to the GSA, but that there was “no way” the GSA was able to verify because “the GSA is not the voters”.
But, the fact that the voters did not vote formally has not delayed presidential transitions before, including in 2016.
Biden’s transition team, meanwhile, tried to move forward with preparations to take office in January, even without the cooperation of the Trump administration. This week, Biden held meetings with heads of state on how to better coordinate the federal and state response to Covid-19. He also received a national security briefing former officials – although it’s not quite the same as a threat briefing from US intelligence agencies.