US Election 2020

US Election 2020: why is Joe Biden pushing for a transition fund?

As President Trump continues to deny the election result the GSA is unable to complete the 'attainment' process that would allow the transition to begin.

US Election 2020: why is Joe Biden pushing for a transition fund?
TOM BRENNER REUTERS

President-elect Joe Biden has already began making preparations for his time in office, holding virtual meetings with his covid-19 task force and naming some key members of his White House staff. However the presidential transition is being disrupted by the incumbent’s refusal to concede.

Donald Trump seems intent on contesting the result of the 2020 presidential election for as long as possible and while he delays the inevitable Biden and his team are being denied access to a substantial sum of money provided to new presidents. The Congressional Research Service explains that the transition fund is designed “to provide suitable office space, staff compensation, and other services associated with the presidential transition process”.

GSA blocks access to federal funding

Although it is President Trump’s refusal to concede that has caused the delay, he is not the one who has ultimate authority over the transition funding. Under the Presidential Transition Act, it falls to the General Services Administration to release the funds. Emily Murphy, the current GSA Administrator and a Trump appointee, is refusing to certify the election result that was called two weeks ago.

She must confirm the election result through a process known as attainment before the presidential transition can officially begin and Biden is granted full access to not only the funds, but also to the presidential intelligence briefings and other classified information. A friend and former colleague of Murphy’s has told CNN that she is struggling with the decision and currently faces pressure from both sides. The source said: "Emily is a consummate professional, a deeply moral person, but also a very scrupulous attorney who is in a very difficult position with an unclear law and precedence that is behind her stance.”

Biden transition team embarks on funding drive

With Trump not expected to concede the election anytime soon Biden’s transition team have taken the unusual step of attempting to crowd-source the money to get ready for the presidency. On Friday they sent a grassroots funding appeal to their supporters calling on people to help them fund the transition.

The email read: "Without ascertainment, we need to fund the transition ourselves, and that's why we're reaching out to you today."

The Democrats outspent the Republicans during the course of the election campaign with a lot of that coming from grassroots donations. That will again be the focus of their fundraising efforts with the maximum donation for the transition funding $5,000, as opposed to a $360,600 limit for campaign donations.

White House deny any irregularity

In a White House press conference on Friday Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany dismissed questions that suggested that the administration was being deliberately disruptive. She defended the President’s right to contest the election result, despite failing to offer to evidence to back up the various unsubstantiated claims, and claimed that the Democrats had refused to cooperate in 2016.

She told reporters: “Let us not forget the inexcusable transition, or lack thereof, that President Trump had to endure in 2016 and for years into his presidency.”

She was presumably referencing the investigation into election fraud in relation to allegations of Russian interference, but conveniently ignored the immediate response of Democrats after the election result was called. Hillary Clinton conceded the election on the night and Trump was invited to the White House by President Obama before he took office. During his inauguration speech, Trump even praised the Barack and Michelle Obama for “their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.”