After weeks of needless delay, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have finally been recognized by the federal General Services Administration (GSA) as the legitimate victors of the 2020 presidential election, a designation that allows the official transition process to begin in earnest, with less than two months to go until Donald Trump is out of office.
The Trump appointed GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, who has the authority to release several million dollars in funds to support the transition, notified President-elect Biden of her decision after election officials in Michigan voted to certify the results, and after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court turned back another Trump campaign legal challenge to the results in the Keystone State.
“As the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, I have the ability under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, to make certain post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition,” Murphy’s letter began.
“I take this role seriously and because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certiﬁcations of election results, am transmitting this letter today to make those resources and services available to you.”
The rest of the letter, except for the closing line, attempts to justify why this decision was not made sooner, and complains that Murphy has been the target of “thousands of threats” from Americans upset by her refusal to do her job.Emily Murphy’s letter to Joe Biden
Yohannes Abraham, the Executive Director of the Biden-Harris Transition, welcomed the decision, characterizing it as very much needed.
“The GSA Administrator has ascertained President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the apparent winners of the election, providing the incoming Administration with the resources and support necessary to carry out a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” said Abraham in a statement.
“Today’s decision is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track. This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies. In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
Prior to Murphy’s decision, United States Senator Patty Murray had added her voice to the chorus calling on the GSA to get a move on and stop dithering.
“Your agency’s mission is to ensure the federal government has the products, services, and facilities it needs to serve the public,” Murray told Murphy.
“Yet, you are choosing to put political loyalty ahead of public health and safety by refusing to make a determination of ascertainment to begin a formal transition of power to the President-elect.”
“By delaying the start of the formal transition, you are impeding the ability of the incoming administration to receive access to resources and personnel. Such a delay could hamper the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already claimed over 250,000 lives,” Murray observed.
“It is completely unacceptable to delay the critical work to save lives, improve educational opportunities for students, or ensure workers are safe and healthy and families are able to make a living during this crisis,” the Senator added.
The Biden-Harris transition team has so far been operating without federal funding and without an officially operated U.S. government website. With Murphy’s determination, that is now set to change.
A growing number of Republican elected officials and business titans, justifiably concerned that Trump’s refusal to concede could impede the transfer of power to the Biden-Harris administration, had also been calling on Murphy to recognize the decision made by the American people and release the funds needed to kick the transition into higher gear. Today, that lobbying paid off.