The transfer of power.
We probably don’t think about it very often – and this term isn’t usually in the headlines either.
This year, the future of our country depends on it. Why?
Because as I’m writing this article, the General Services Administration (GSA) refuses to sign the paperwork which recognizes Joe Biden as President-elect to facilitate the transition of power between the two presidents.
This statement alone proves just how important GSA is during an unprecedented scenario such as this one – a scenario in which the current U.S. President could refuse to accept his defeat formally.
But what is the GSA exactly and how can it decide the faith of our country? Let’s find out.
What is the GSA?
GSA, or the General Services Administration, is a bureaucracy created in 1949 which is now made up of 12,000 employees and a surprising $21 billion budget. Although it’s largely operating behind the political scenes, this Administration is crucial for supporting and managing other federal entities through aspects such as:
- Managing federal office spaces
- Negotiating and procuring supplies requested by federal entities
- Implementing new technologies across the government
What does the GSA do during presidential transitions?
Every time a new president is elected, the GSA creates a presidential transition team based in a special office space at Washington. This team is responsible for providing the President-elect’s team with access to federal agencies. This step allows the President-elect to plan future policy changes, as well as getting an in-depth look at the current government and its members.
For this task, the presidential transition team receives a budget of $6.3 million.
The first step, though, is that the GSA administrator needs to issue a letter of ‘ascertainment.’ Through this letter, the GSA officially recognizes the winner of the Presidential race and the transition of power can begin.
And this is where things get complicated…
Why isn’t the GSA ascertaining a winner now?
With almost a week since Election Day, current President Donald Trump still refuses to concede the election which showed Mr. Biden as the outright winner. Members of Mr. Trump’s Republican campaign team have spent the last few days filing lawsuits in many states across the country, mainly claiming there’s been a vote fraud.
So far, officials have found no evidence of voting fraud for this year’s election whatsoever with every claim filed, either being defeated or almost immediately thrown out of the court.
Right now, Emily Murphy is the GSA administrator assigned with ascertaining Mr. Biden’s future role at the White House.
So far, she has been stalling the move without a solid reason – although most people suspect it is due to her connection with Mr. Trump. Murphy is a Trump appointee, as well as a former member of the Republican Staff on Capitol Hill; New York Times also claims she is known as a ‘diligent professional.’
Officially, though, GSA declares that Murphy can’t declare a new president yet because the situation could still change. The agency further offered the 2000 election as an example, when a Florida recount was won over court battle which delayed the transition of power by several weeks.
As I’ve mentioned above, this is not a solid reason. Why?
Because the 2000 elections were so close that their results literally depended on a single state, as there were only 537 votes separating the two candidates. Fast-forward to 2020’s Presidential race, Mr. Joe Biden is leading Donald Trump by thousands of votes in multiple states. If the Trump administration’s theory is true and Mr. Biden only won due to voting fraud, this would probably be the biggest fraud in our nation’s 244-year history.
That is probably not the case.
In 2016 – the year Donald Trump took office – the GSA started the transition process on November 9th. That is exactly one day after the election.
You can read Mr. Biden’s team response to this unprecedented situation – as well as official declarations – in my post right here.
Why is the transition of power so important?
This transition process is mandatory because it allows the President-elect to plan future policy changes, prioritize certain projects and analyze the current situation of our country in a much more professional way. By the time the President-elect takes office in January, he will have already established a well-organized plan of action. This is what is known as a smooth transition.
The transition of power also offers the President-elect’s team access to classified intelligence regarding international threats and treaties.
Still don’t think GSA is that important? Read next:
As I was mentioning earlier, the 2000 election Florida recount delayed the transition process by a few weeks; in order to stay on track regarding the President-elect’s official arrival into the White House, the transition process was shortened.
This shortened transition process contributed to our country’s unpreparedness for one of the most brutal terrorist attacks, today known as 9/11.
Unfortunately, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has confirmed on Tuesday that they had still not begun collaborating with Mr. Biden. Although the President-elect did receive a low-level briefing due to his formal nomination, he still can’t gain access to the Presidential Daily Brief.
The ODNI has clearly stated that they cannot make any move until the GSA ascertains Joe Biden as the future U.S. president.
In a recent Tweet published this Monday Jen Psaki, transition official for the Biden-Harris team, publicly urged Emily Murphy and her administration to officially accept ‘the inevitable.’ As for President Trump’s team, while many of his loyalists are standing firm by his side, a few Republican8s are beginning to speak up urging him to accept defeat.