The top House Democrats want answers on the status of the change of president.
On Thursday, House Speaker Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Grants Committee Chairman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), along with two other senior Democrats, Gerald Connolly (D-VA) and Mike Quigley (D-IL), demanded that General Services Administration (GSA) administrator Emily Murphy informed them Monday of the delay in declaring President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election.
The GSA must officially “ascertain” Biden as the next president in order for the transition to begin in earnest, a move that releases funds for the incoming president and gives his team access to federal agencies and briefings to prepare for the transfer of power.
In the past, most GSA administrators have made their decisions based on media outbursts, but Murphy has not done so yet, despite Biden being declared the winner by all major U.S. media outlets, and Trump̵
“Your actions to block transitional activities required by law have serious effects, including undermining the orderly transfer of power, impairing the incoming authority’s ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, hampering its ability to tackle our nations’ grim economic crisis, and bringing our national security, ”representatives wrote in a letter to Murphy on Thursday.
The White House has denied pressuring Murphy to withhold the finding. But the House Democrats said in their letter that if that was really true, then Murphy should “follow the law and make the statement without finding any further delay.” The briefing, they added, would help them decide whether Murphy or other leaders at the GSA would be required to testify before Congress.
The GSA did not return Vox’s request for comment.
This push from House Democrats is the latest pressure on the GSA to usher in the transition. Former national security officials have commented on how the delay in the transition – particularly the fact that President-elect Biden is not receiving intelligence briefings – could undermine America’s security.
Former public health officials and medical experts have also urged the GSA to begin the transition, warning that a continued delay could undermine the next administration Covid-19 response and preparations for vaccine distribution, which could endanger American lives.
After most presidential elections – with the exception of the controversial 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore – GSA administrators have quickly identified the next president after news outlets called the race and the losing candidate admitted.
In 2016, for example, Trump was found the day after the election, despite his lead being much less than Bidens’ in 2020. Trump has not conceded defeat and is pursuing legal challenges, but nothing in the founding process excludes the GSA from declaring Biden the likely winner and starts the transition process while Trump continues to fight for it in court.
But while Democrats in Congress have demanded the formal transition start, Republicans have been a little more desirable. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), who is retiring this year, said in a statement Friday that “if there is any chance at all that Joe Biden will be 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 material, resources and meetings needed to ensure a smooth transition so that both sides are ready on day one. ”
Senator Jim Lankford (R-OK), who last week said he saw nothing “wrong” with Biden receiving intelligence briefings, said this week that Biden should continue to receive the briefings he received as a candidate , but not at a high level The President’s daily briefing. He said he spoke to the GSA, but that “there was no way” the GSA could determine because “the GSA is not the voters.”
But again, the fact that voters have not formally voted has not held presidential transitions before, including in 2016.
The bid’s transition team, meanwhile, has 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 state leaders on how to better coordinate the federal and state response to Covid-19. He also received a national security briefing from former officials – although it is not quite the same as a threat briefing from US intelligence agencies.