Key U.S. agency says no presidential transition yet, will brief Congress
Lawmakers and business executives ratcheted up pressure on the little-known federal agency on Monday to recognize the Nov. 3 election results and free up millions of dollars in federal funds, office space and briefings for Biden's team. The GSA has said Murphy, who was appointed to her job by President Donald Trump in 2017, will "ascertain" or formally approve, the transition when the winner is clear.Reuters | Washington DC | Updated: 24-11-2020 03:26 IST | Created: 24-11-2020 03:25 IST
The federal agency that must sign off on the presidential transition said on Monday it had still not approved the hand-over process for President-elect Joe Biden, defying demands by Democrats, but would brief Congress on Nov. 30. A U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) spokeswoman said Deputy Administrator Allison Brigati would speak with the Democratic chairmen and senior Republican lawmakers on four U.S. House of Representative committees next week, following a request by House Democrats.
The agency will also hold a briefing for congressional staff on three U.S. Senate panels that House staff members can attend, said the spokeswoman, Pamela Pennington. Leaders of the House Appropriations and Oversight and Reform committees and two key subcommittees on Monday rejected the plan and demanded GSA Administrator Emily Murphy brief them on Tuesday.
"Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris Administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation's dire economic crisis, and our national security," the chairs wrote. Lawmakers and business executives ratcheted up pressure on the little-known federal agency on Monday to recognize the Nov. 3 election results and free up millions of dollars in federal funds, office space and briefings for Biden's team.
The GSA has said Murphy, who was appointed to her job by President Donald Trump in 2017, will "ascertain" or formally approve, the transition when the winner is clear. Trump has continued to falsely claim he won the race and has spent weeks offering baseless claims of widespread voter fraud that have repeatedly failed to gain traction in the courts.
The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 provides no firm deadline for the GSA to act, but the agency has historically acted once media organizations call a winner. Democratic Representative Don Beyer, incoming chairman of Congress' Joint Economic Committee, warned Murphy of "devastating repercussions," including disruptions in federal aid to small businesses, if she did not sign the necessary paperwork.
He said a delayed hand-over at the U.S. Treasury Department could delay delivery of stimulus checks to millions of predominantly low-income families, while millions could lose housing as eviction and foreclosure moratoria expired. Biden is due to take office on Jan. 20 after having won the election with enough state-by-state electoral votes to secure the Electoral College. The Democrat leads in the national popular vote by more than 6 million. Trump's fellow Republicans have slowly broken from the president in recent days to urge the transition process to start.
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