Republicans and business leaders pressing for prompt Biden transition

The General Services Administration is being urged to release money and staffing needed for the handover.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden

Pressure is increasing on Donald Trump’s administration to authorise a formal transition process for Joe Biden as an increasing number of Republicans, national security experts and business leaders say it is time for that process to move forward.

Republican senator Rob Portman called for the head of the General Services Administration to release money and staffing needed for the transition.

Mr Portman, a senior member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, also said Mr Biden should receive high-level briefings on national security and the coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.

The Trump ally joined a growing number of Republican officials who in recent days have urged Mr Trump to begin the transition immediately. Senator Shelley Moore Capito also urged a smooth transition, saying in a statement “at some point, the 2020 election must end”.

Rob Portman
Rob Portman (Graeme Jennings/AP)

More than 160 business leaders asked GSA chief Emily Murphy to immediately acknowledge Mr Biden as president-elect and begin the transition to a new administration.

“Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk,” the business leaders said in an open letter to Murphy.

Separately, more than 100 Republican former national security officials — including former Homeland Security director Tom Ridge, former CIA director Michael Hayden and former director of National Intelligence John Negroponte — said in a statement that Mr Trump’s refusal to concede and allow for an orderly transition “constitutes a serious threat” to America’s democratic process. The officials signing the letter worked under four presidents, including Mr Trump.

The statement called on “Republican leaders — especially those in Congress — to publicly demand that President Trump cease his anti-democratic assault on the integrity of the presidential election”.

Ms Murphy missed a deadline on Monday set by House Democrats to brief legislators about the delay in beginning the transition, which is usually a routine step between the election and the inauguration. A spokeswoman for the GSA said a deputy administrator would instead hold two separate briefings for House and Senate committees on November 30.

Emily Murphy
Emily Murphy (Susan Walsh/AP)

In response, the Democratic chairs of four committees and subcommittees said they could reschedule the meeting for Tuesday, but no later.

“We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination,” the Democrats said in a letter to Ms Murphy.

“Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperilled as the incoming Biden-Harris administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”

Ms Murphy, who was appointed by Mr Trump, has yet to certify Mr Biden as the winner of the presidential election, stalling the process of officially launching the transition.

Mr Trump has publicly refused to accept defeat and has launched a series of court battles across the country making baseless claims of widespread voter fraud and seeking to overturn the election results.

Mr Portman said it was “only prudent” for the GSA to begin the transition process immediately.

“Donald Trump is our president until January 20 2021, but in the likely event that Joe Biden becomes our next president, it is in the national interest that the transition is seamless and that America is ready on day one of a new administration for the challenges we face,” he said.

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