The federal official needed to sign off on President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory and begin the mammoth task of transitioning between presidents has so far refused to do so, a move that could delay the official transfer of power, The Washington Post reported on Sunday evening.
Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee who heads the U.S. General Services Administration, has so far resisted signing the paperwork that would give Biden and his team access to millions of dollars in transitions funds, as well as official access to government officials and equipment he can use to prepare for the Oval Office.
Biden was projected to win the presidency on Saturday after a historic, heated election that stretched for days as election workers around the nation counted mountains of mail-in ballots that saw the former vice president defeat President Donald Trump by more than 4 million votes.
The Post notes Murphy, who was sworn into office in 2017, is tasked with making an “ascertainment” that Biden has won the presidency before it can sign off on the transition. By doing so, the Biden team would have access to $9.9 million for salaries and spending over the next two and a half months. Officials would also get office space and government email addresses, and begin to work with government officials to wade through the complicated process of replacing one president with another.
In a statement to Politico this weekend, the GSA said it had not yet made that call. It could wait until Dec. 14 when the Electoral College votes are cast and certified, but doing so would undercut weeks of transition time Biden could leverage to enter the White House prepared for the job.
“GSA and its Administrator will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law,” the agency said in a brief statement to the publication.
Trump has so far refused to concede, bucking decades of tradition while continuing to spread conspiracy theories about voter fraud that have been discredited again and again. Axios reported Sunday that while many within the Trump administration have already reckoned with the loss, some die-hards within the West Wing have supported long-shot efforts to challenge Biden’s victory.
A Biden transition spokesperson told the Post it looked “forward to the GSA Administrator quickly ascertaining Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the President-elect and Vice President-elect.”
“America’s national security and economic interests depend on the federal government signaling clearly and swiftly that the United States government will respect the will of the American people and engage in a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” the said.
Biden and his team have already begun to prepare for their first day in office after the inauguration on Jan. 20, and the president-elect announced a COVID-19 task force on Monday to guide his policies on the ongoing pandemic.
Biden’s early plans also include rejoining the Paris climate accord.