Common Cause Calls on GSA to Comply with Presidential Transition Act & Put National Security & Public Health Before Partisanship

Today, Common Cause called on General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily W. Murphy to uphold her duty and comply with the Presidential Transition Act by immediately ascertaining President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris as stewards of the incoming administration. The letter to Administrator Murphy emphasized that a peaceful and orderly transition of power is vitally important to national security, to public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to our democracy. The Act defines the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect as the “apparent successful candidates for the office of President and Vice President, respectively, as ascertained by the Administrator following the general elections.”

The letter stresses that GSA’s ascertainment does not depend on final certification of final election results and that for more than a half-century the apparent President-Elect and Vice President-Elect have been ascertained by the agency shortly after the media  has projected a winner and weeks before the Electoral College makes results official. The letter points out that last month Congress provided the full $9.9 million requested by the GSA for the transition. The letter also cites the 9/11 Commission Report, which examined presidential transitions and made recommendations to improve national security during a transition.

“Americans expect and deserve an orderly transition of power after any election, but particularly one in the midst of a global pandemic that has claimed almost a quarter-million American lives and when our nation faces a variety of national security threats,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “To deny any President-Elect the full resources and tools of a presidential transition is reckless and irresponsible. The partisan grandstanding must be brought to an abrupt halt for the good of the nation. The new administration must be given the funding and the access to information to begin the complicated process of a presidential transition.”

Major media outlets unanimously called the election in favor of the Biden-Harris ticket more than three days ago, and the letter makes the point that GSA’s ascertainment does not serve as a final declaration of an election victory. Final disposition of the election is left to other officials and will takes weeks to complete when election results are canvassed and certified.

The letter closes with a warning from the Presidential Transition Act itself, which recognizes that “[a]ny disruption occasioned by the transfer of the executive power could produce results detrimental to the safety and well-being of the United States and its people.”

To read the full letter, click here.