WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey joined 39 of his senate colleagues Friday to call on the GSA administrator to end the “unprecedented delay” in the presidential transition process and to provide critical resources to President-Elect Joe Biden.
Casey, D-Scranton, joined U.S. Sen. Gary Peters. D-MI, Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and their colleagues in calling on General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily Murphy to end her unprecedented delay, immediately ascertain Biden as President-elect and Sen. Kamala Harris as Vice President-elect and make available the transition resources that are provided by law.
The senators said this delay creates “unacceptable risks to national security and Coronavirus pandemic response efforts” as the United States passed more than 250,000 deaths.
The senators wrote:
“The United States is in the midst of a pandemic that has now claimed over 250,000 lives, with the number of new cases rising daily. Our country also faces a number of ongoing threats, including physical and cyber attacks from foreign actors, violence from domestic extremists, and natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes.
“The GSA Administrator’s ascertainment of a President-elect is also critical for agencies’ willingness to share information with the transition team, including classified information, as well as for the expeditious processing of security clearances for candidates for high-level national security positions. Your delay in acknowledging Vice President Biden’s status as President-elect could undermine efforts by the incoming Administration to meet the needs of the American people in a time of national emergency,” continued the Senators.
Case and the senators said under the Presidential Transition Act, GSA is charged with providing resources and support to the President-elect and Vice President-elect so they can be ready to govern from Day One. They said Administrator Murphy must complete the ascertainment process to allow the President-elect’s transition team to receive needed information from agency officials at public health and national security agencies, ensure incoming national security officials can receive background checks and access to classified information and provide federal funding and resources to support the transition process.
Casey said a smooth and efficient transition is one of the hallmarks of American democracy.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, did not sign the letter. However, Toomey did respond to a question about the transition during an interview with Bloomberg TV on Friday.
“Yeah, so there’s a lot of communication that’s happening. It’s not what I think should be happening. I think there should be a full, conventional transition underway.
“It is very likely that Joe Biden is going to be the next President of the United States. He is very likely to be certified, and that’s the way this is likely to play out.
“And if I’m wrong, then at some point when I’m proven wrong the transition can come to end and becomes a moot point. But why wouldn’t we go ahead and prepare for what certainly looks like the high probability event?”
In the letter, the senators said with the exception of the Presidential election in 2000 and the resulting recount, ascertainment by GSA normally happens within a day after a winner is declared, including in 2008 and 2016.
They said the bipartisan 9/11 Commission found that the shortened transition following the 2000 recount created serious vulnerabilities, including delays related to key national security appointments.