The General Services Administration acknowledged Democrat Joe Biden as the apparent winner of the presidential election on Monday, following weeks of inaction, and President Donald Trump called on his agencies to cooperate, Bloomberg reports.
“I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols, and have told my team to do the same,” Trump said of Emily Murphy, the General Services Administration chief who heads the government agency meant to ease Biden’s transition into the White House. The Republican, however, said he would continue to contest the outcome of the election.
The designation triggers a formal transition process, giving Biden and his team access to current agency officials, briefing books and other government resources, including some $6 million in funding.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that most western media had projected the Democrat candidate winner of the keenly contested election after Biden’s triumphant victory in the electoral college votes against incumbent Trump who had refused to concede defeat while alleging fraud in the election.
Monday’s letter was sent after nine Republican senators had called for the transition process to begin, and hours after Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers had voted to certify the election’s results, practically ensuring Biden’s victory in the key battleground state.
“Because of recent developments involving legal challenges and certifications of election results, I have determined that you may access the post-election resources and services described in Section 3 of the Act upon request,” Murphy said in a letter to Biden, citing the Presidential Transition Act of 1963.
The announcement is a “needed step” to “getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track,” Yohannes Abraham, the executive director of the Biden-Harris transition, said in an emailed statement.
“In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
For weeks, the Biden transition team has worked informally to establish a new administration, including assembling a coronavirus task force and consulting with public health officials outside of the federal government, mimicking the approach former Vice President Dick Cheney took during the disputed 2000 election.
Blocked from interacting with federal agencies, Biden’s staff instead sought out other experts from academia, state governments and Capitol Hill.
The biggest change now is that the transition team will be able to flood federal agencies with officials focused on preparing the way for his administration. They will have access to agency staff and briefing books assembled earlier this year, as well as details on what administrative issues must be addressed right away.
Transition aides also will get details about which positions are most critical, as the incoming administration seeks to fill more than 7,000 jobs across the federal government.
“Fortunately, federal career civil servants have done an outstanding job preparing for this year’s transition by producing fact-based information on critical agency issues and by designating acting officials who will lead agency operations until new political appointees are confirmed,” said David Marchick, director of the Center for Presidential Transition. “They now need space to do their jobs.”