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Nonpartisan group calls for key federal agency to begin Biden transition

By Don Jacobson
Balloons and signs fill the fence between Black Lives Matter Plaza and Lafayette Park near the White House on Monday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 9 (UPI) -- A nonpartisan group of officials and presidential transition experts have urged the Trump administration to immediately begin the process of transferring executive power to President-elect Joe Biden.

In a letter, the Center for Presidential Transition called on the General Services Administration to "immediately begin the post-election transition process."

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The GSA is an independent federal agency that helps manage and support basic functions of other federal-level agencies and is responsible for making transition resources available to any president-elect.

"Every day counts in a transition, this year more than any transition since 1932 [during the Great Depression]," wrote David Marchick, the center's director.

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The panel includes several former top executive officials, including Josh Bolten, chief of staff to former President George W. Bush, and Thomas McLarty, chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton.

By late Sunday, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had not yet officially affirmed that Biden won the election.

Without Murphy's affirmation, Biden's transition team cannot access government funds granted by federal law or communicate with the agencies they will be staffing.

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"An ascertainment has not yet been made," GSA spokeswoman Pamela Pennington told The Washington Post, adding that Murphy "will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law."

"Until an ascertainment is made, the statute allows for the Biden transition team to continue to receive the pre-elect services from the government (e.g., limited office space, computers, background investigations for security clearances). GSA has met all statutory requirements under the [transition act] for this election cycle and will continue to do so."

The situation has led to fears that the transition could unnecessarily be delayed during a national emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"Murphy must begin the Biden transition without delay," tweeted Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., chairman of a House subcommittee on government operations.

"The administrator plays a critical role in the peaceful transfer of power and ensuring vital government services are not disrupted. This is all the more important amid a deadly pandemic. Do the right thing."

Biden has already launched his transition team website.

President Donald Trump, however, has not conceded the race and has not given any indication that he will do so. His campaign is pursuing legal challenges to vote counts in multiple states.

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