The team responsible for the Biden-Harris transition to presidency is considering several legal options if the federal agency officials delay the process of transfer of power in the upcoming days. These mechanics should start allowing access to agencies and funding for the president-elect as soon as possible.
But is this step necessary?
A mandatory transfer of power
An anonymous Biden-Harris transition official recently declared that the team believes it’s time for the GSA administration to ascertain Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president-elect and vice president-elect.
At one point, reporters asked the official whether his transition team is considering taking legal action to speed up the mechanics of transition. He admitted that the group is preparing a series of legal options as it may be a possibility, but they are also considering other options to solve this issue as well. Another separate transition official later confirmed the statement.
So, what does the GSA actually have to do now that the presidential elections are over?
GSA, a key element in the game
The General Services Administration, or GSA, must oversee presidential transitions. This process includes access to the Washington office space for the winning candidate, as well as facilitating the access to all federal agencies.
This step is crucial as the winning candidate’s ‘review teams’ must get accustomed to agencies and career officials to analyze which policies may be changed when the candidate takes office.
According to federal laws, the Biden-Harris transition office has already been operational since the beginning of this fall precisely to ease the transition of power.
The U.S. law says that the GSA Administrator (now Emily Murphy, Trump administration appointee) must sign all paperwork which gives Mr. Biden access to millions of dollars, office space access and equipment required to complete the transition process.
Basically, Emily Murphy provides the federal government with formal acknowledgment that Joe Biden has indeed won the presidential race.
Up until now, Murphy has done nothing.
A potential presidential issue
This past Sunday, the agency reported that Murphy’s position hasn’t changed and that she can’t ascertain the winner of the 2020 presidential elections.
The situation is even stranger since the agency had previously declared that Murphy can ‘ascertain the apparent successful candidate once a winner is clear based on the process laid out in the Constitution.’
Additionally, agency officials declared that up until now they have met all the requirements under the Presidential Transition Act and ended their statement promising that they will continue to do so.
On Monday, multiple members of the Biden-Harris transition team showed signs of frustration because our current President, Donald Trump, is holding up the process.
Furthermore, they point out that this type of delay happens extremely rarely and it denies Joe Biden access to classified information for national security appointees, which is a potential risk to the security of the nation.
Additionally, the president-elect can’t start checking top government appointees’ background or work with the Senate Department to receive calls from foreign leaders who wish to congratulate him for the victory. Unless a transfer of power takes place, the president-elect has no access to secure facilities either.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this issue is that Joe Biden and his team still can’t look into all the details of Operation Warp Speed – the widely debated project promoted by the Trump administration which aims to distribute COVID-19 vaccines throughout the country.
This last aspect is even more important now that the giant company Pfizer has found a vaccine with a 90% efficiency rate against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. A transfer of power is mandatory and even urgent for a peaceful political transition and officials hope it will happen soon enough.
However, the Constitution states that Donald Trump must vacate the White House by the 20th of January.