Summary List PlacementDemocratic leaders are demanding to know why President-elect Joe Biden has not been recognized as the next US head of state by the Trump administration, despite the race have already been called by all major news networks.
Under the Presidential Transition Act, the General Services Administration is supposed to provide office space and equipment to assist “the apparent successful candidates for the office of President and Vice President.”
But GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, an appointee of outgoing President Donald Trump, has failed to call the race herself, delaying the formal transition to the next president — and, Democrats argue, jeopardizing the next administration’s ability to immediately tackle the numerous crises it will inherit, from the pandemic to a recession.
In a November 19 letter to Murphy, leaders of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote that “there is no conceivable argument” that the winner of the 2020 election is not yet apparent.
“President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris have clearly satisfied any good faith reading of this standard,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote. “We have been extremely patient, but we can wait no longer.”
We have been incredibly patient, @GSAEmily, but we can wait no longer. Your refusal to follow the law is active and existential threat to our democratic norms and institutions.You owe us, and the American people, an explanation. We are demanding you provide one. By Monday. pic.twitter.com/lcMfJNrp2P — Rep. Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) November 20, 2020
Earlier on Thursday, CNN reported that Murphy was struggling with the decision, citing people who have spoken with her recently.
“She absolutely feels like she’s in a hard place,” one friend told CNN. “She’s afraid on multiple levels. It’s a terrible situation.”
In their letter, House Democrats ask Murphy to personally brief them on why she has yet to make a decision and to clarify whether or not she has been pressured to stall by the Trump administration.
It has been 20 years since the last time a presidential transition was delayed. Back then, former Vice President Al Gore and former President George W. Bush were locked in an intense legal battle in Florida, with the victor set to move into the White House.
“In this unprecedented, incredibly close, and intensely contested election, with legal action being pursued by both sides, it is not apparent to me who the winner is,” then-GSA Administrator David J. Barram told Congress on December 7, 2000. The transition only began days later, after the US Supreme Court stepped in and stopped a recount, handing the presidency to the Republican nominee.
Per CNN, Murphy sees 2000 as a precedent. But there are major differences, Democrats note. For one, Biden and Harris’ victory does not hinge on the results of one state. The Democratic ticket has a 306 to 232 lead in the Electoral College, a margin that the Trump campaign itself deemed a “landslide” in 2016; they also enjoy a lead in the popular vote of nearly 6 million.
“Unlike the dispute after the 2000 election in Bush v. Gore, there is no legitimate path forward for President Trump — regardless of how many baseless lawsuits he files or his irrelevant refusal to concede,” the lawmakers wrote.
The GSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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