Blocking the transition is risking American lives
Biden needs to be able to begin planning, especially during a crisis
It is now 10 days since Election Day and nearly a week since the networks declared Joe Biden the president-elect. Nevertheless, Emily Murphy, the Trump appointee who controls transition funding and permits access to senior officials across the government through her post at the top of the General Services Administration, has refused to “ascertain” the winner of the presidential election. There is no question that she is facing pressure from the White House to stand firm, but her intransigence threatens our centuries-old commitment to a peaceful and efficient transfer of government.
Her actions effectively truncate an already brief transition period (78 days), breaking long-established norms about how a losing president concedes and helps the incoming administration prepare to run the government. The issue is even more grave since the country is struggling to defeat a pandemic, which is getting worse as cases and hospitalizations hit record levels. And the fallout will be tremendous — affecting every sector of the economy as well as ratcheting up the level of emotional turmoil and trauma.
Murphy’s reluctance denies Biden’s incoming White House aides critical resources: additional funding to pay for transition expenses (e.g., salaries, supplies, travel), the acquisition of additional office space, advancing the vetting of potential nominees through the FBI and, perhaps most important, access to the civil servants who have prepared extensive reports in preparation for this very moment. The ability to interview outgoing appointees as well as civil servants is fundamental to the successful transfer of power.