Posts tagged with "President-elect Joe Biden"

As Trump vows to ‘never concede,’ his administration officially authorizes Biden transition

November 25, 2020

After weeks of delay, the head of the General Services Administration informed President-elect Joe Biden on Monday, November 23, that the official governmental transition process has been approved, NBC News reports.

GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter that Biden, whom she referred to as “the apparent president-elect,” is now able to get access to millions of dollars in federal funds and other resources to begin his transition to power. In her letter, Murphy also denied that she had been under pressure from the White House to delay the process.

“I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right,” she said. “Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision.”

Trump vowed to continue his legal fight to contest the election results in a pair of tweets but said, “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.”

Hours later, the president tweeted that he would “never concede to fake ballots and ‘Dominion,’” referring to a conspiracy theory that baselessly alleges a company that makes voting machines deleted millions of Trump votes.

The transition process had been stalled for weeks as Trump’s team waged a sputtering legal battle across the country to contest the results, leaving Biden out of the loop on the COVID-19 vaccine and other key issues, NBC News notes.

However, Trump and the GSA faced increasing pressure as a growing number of Republican lawmakers began to publicly call for Biden to be granted access, citing national security concerns. Democratic lawmakers had also begun calling for Murphy to testify before Congress.

Biden, on the other hand, began filling out his Cabinet and announcing personnel for other senior roles during the delay. He also held briefings with former top government officials and formed his own COVID-19 task force.

In a statement, Biden transition adviser Yohannes Abraham called the news “a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track.”

“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies,” he said. “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.”

In a statement later Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) called the GSA letter “probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue.”

“Let us all now — Democrats and Republicans, the Trump Administration and the incoming Biden Administration—unite together for a smooth and peaceful transition that will benefit America,” he said. “The nation faces multiple crises that demand an orderly transition, and I look forward to working with President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris to get things done to help the American people.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Biden builds ‘war room operation’ for Senate confirmation battles

November 20, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden hasn’t nominated anyone for his Cabinet yet, but he’s assembling the team to get his future picks confirmed, Politico reports exclusively.

With Republicans favored to retain their majority in the Senate next year, Biden’s Cabinet is poised to become the incoming administration’s first big political battle. The confirmation votes will be an early test of the president-elect’s ability to maneuver in the Senate and work with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will maintain control of the chamber as long as Republicans win one of two Senate run-offs in Georgia.

To navigate those fights, Biden has tapped:

Biden also has dispatched his campaign’s rapid response director, Andrew Bates, for a leadership role respectively, on Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaigns, respectively.

Jorge Neri, a senior adviser to the Biden campaign, also will be the deputy outreach director on confirmations. The “war room” operation will expand over the next week with the addition of Biden campaign staff and volunteers from Capitol Hill, members of the transition team told Politico.

They will work with Stephanie Valencia, who is overseeing Biden transition outreach, plus Louisa Terrell, who is managing the transition’s congressional affairs—but the nominations team will have their own communications, outreach and legislative personnel to get Biden’s nominees over the finish line.

The new team is also looking to shake up some of the conventions of the Cabinet nomination process, including the code of silence that has traditionally surrounded nominees. Instead, transition staff intend to introduce Biden’s Cabinet picks to the American people before their Senate hearings, which could include media blitzes to build up public support. There’s a risk, however, that the increased exposure could lead to embarrassing gaffes or missteps by nominees.

In less polarized times, senators were more willing to cross party lines and confirm the president’s Cabinet choices. There is more uncertainty now. During the Trump administration, some Democrats with presidential ambitions saw an advantage in voting against as many of Trump’s nominees as possible: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) later bragged on the campaign trail that she voted against more of Trump’s nominees than any other Senate Democrat. A similar dynamic could play out in 2021, given the number of Senate Republicans eyeing a 2024 presidential run.

Biden, however, is intent on trying to restore some of the Senate’s erstwhile comity. The transition told Politico hat they “are operating under the belief that the Senate will be under substantial pressure from the public and voters across the country—as well as from their allies in the business community and throughout Washington—to take action on the economy and public health crises, to confirm nominees and rebuild federal agencies with competent public servants.”

Research contact: @politico

‘Biden’ his time: While president-elect remains chill, some Senate Republicans say he must get intel briefings

November16, 202o

Senate Republicans still aren’t acknowledging that Donald Trump lost the election. But they’re getting a little closer, Politico reports.

As Trump refuses to concede and continues to wage legal battles based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, Senate Republicans are increasingly deferring to the presidential transition process— arguing it should at least begin so that President-elect Joe Biden can receive high-level intelligence briefings.

“Both of them have got to be ready to serve, if selected. We don’t know who the winner is. So keep the briefings going,” Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) said. “Ultimately, the president has to make this decision.”

According to Politico, Lankford, who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee, noted that in 2000, then-President Bill Clinton allowed George W. Bush to begin receiving presidential-level intelligence briefings during the recount in Florida. Lankford added that he plans to question the government agency responsible for jump-starting the transition process if a certification is not made by Friday.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, already has said that Biden should start receiving the Presidential Daily Brief, an intelligence report curated for the president and senior White House officials. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missour), a member of the Intelligence Committee and the No. 4 Senate Republican, agreed on Thursday, November 12.

“Whether [Biden] actually gets the product itself, I think the information needs to be communicated in some way,” Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Intelligence Committee, told Politico, adding. “I don’t see it as a high-risk proposition, and if in fact he does win in the end, I think they need to be able to hit the ground running.”

Other Republicans were less committal, only saying that they would have no issue if Biden began receiving the briefings, Politico said.

“All trends look like he’s going to be the president of the United States,” Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) said.

“I see no problem with that,” added Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who has said that the results of the election will be known in December when members of the Electoral College will meet. “I think there’s a process.”

Trump has continued to rail against the election results since Biden secured enough Electoral College votes on Saturday, November 7,  to take the White House, and Republicans this week have mostly stood by the president.

By law, the General Services Administration has the sole authority to kick-start a presidential transition by unlocking federal funds and allowing transition officials to have access to agencies and departments. But a Trump appointee who leads the GSA, Emily Murphy, has yet to certify that Biden is the president-elect, preventing his team from speaking with the government agencies it will soon run.

Without sign-off from the president, Biden also cannot receive the intelligence briefings that usually are afforded to the president-elect. The briefings hold increased importance now as the incoming president will need to be up-to-speed on multiple crises facing the nation, including skyrocketing coronavirus infections and other national-security matters.

Biden has been moving forward with the transition—talking to world leaders and lawmakers, and starting to fill staff positions. To date, he has not made the lack of high-level intel an issue.

Research contact: @politico

Biden set to deliver Obamacare speech as Supreme Court weighs law’s future

November 11, 2020

President-elect Joe Biden—who campaigned on a promise to keep and enhance Obamacare—was set to deliver a health care-focused speech on Tuesday. November 10, even as the Supreme Court heard a case that could overturn the law.

Earlier in the day, Supreme Court justices listened to oral arguments in a case that seeks to invalidate the landmark health reform law. They will likely take initial votes at their private Friday, November 13, conference and begin the process of writing opinions, though a decision isn’t expected until the first half of 2021.

According to a report by CNN, President Donald Trump’s administration is looking to undo former President Barack Obama’s signature health law. And even with Biden set to take office on January 20, there is little he can do: Even if his administration switches sides and argues in favor of Obamacare, the case will continue because the original lawsuit was brought by a coalition of Republican attorneys general.

Protecting Obamacare was a central theme of Biden’s campaign. During the Democratic primary, he argued for expanding the law by adding a “public option” that would allow Americans to buy into a government-run health insurance plan— and, by beefing up federal premium subsidies, that would make Affordable Care Act coverage more affordable. He opposed more progressive rivals’ push to scrap private insurance entirely in favor of a single-payer, “Medicare- for-all”-type system.

Trump’s administration and the Republican-led House and Senate failed to repeal Obamacare during Trump’s first two years in Congress, CNN noted. Trump and the GOP in late 2017 did enact a tax law that gutted Obamacare’s individual mandate by setting the penalty for not having insurance at $0.

Trump’s administration later joined the Republican-led states, which argued in court that Congress’ action rendered the individual mandate unconstitutional, and since it’s a linchpin of the Affordable Care Act, the entire law should be invalidated.

Tuesday’s speech comes as Biden’s transition becomes more contentious, with Trump refusing to concede and making a series of baseless claims that seek to undermine the legitimacy of the election. His administration has not yet taken the legal step necessary to allow the transition process to begin by giving Biden’s team access to $6.3 million set aside for the process, as well as access to federal agencies.

Research contact: @CNN