As Joe Biden stood on stage on Saturday night and watched the drones dance overhead, spelling out B-I-D-E-N and P-R-E-S-I-D-E-N-T E-L-E-C-T, a different kind of tango was taking place here in Washington. A political appointee answerable to President Donald Trump appeared unwilling to give the next commander-in-chief the keys to basic office space as required by law.
The General Services Administration is the federal government’s de facto real-estate firm. It provides incoming administrations with the basics — like office space and computers — to make the transition between election results and Inauguration Day as easy as possible. But the current head of the GSA, a former senior aide on Capitol Hill who was appointed by Trump, has said she has not seen any certification outside of the media that Biden won, thus she has no obligation to contradict her boss, who says he has. GSA aides say they are merely following precedent set in 2000, when there was a dispute and a recount.
That means the Biden team could be without a physical base in the capital until the Electoral College votes on Dec. 14. More importantly, it suggests that staffers in the Trump Administration may not start talking to their successors until every last effort can be made by Trump to stay in power through litigation. So far, most Republicans seem unwilling to openly break with Trump and acknowledge that their former Senate colleague and the former Vice President has prevailed. Although Trump is going to be a one-term President, he still amassed 70 million votes, making him a powerful voice inside the GOP for the rest of his days.
It’s all exactly what Biden transition chairman Ted Kaufman had hoped to head off. As Biden’s longtime chief of staff, temporary replacement in the Senate and now very senior adviser, Kaufman wrote the 2010 law that prescribes for basic necessities of handing off power. Kaufman later lobbied for a follow-up version before Trump was elected to make future transitions as seamless as possible.
In a post-9/11 world, Congress agreed that transitions from one administration to the next needed to be more than social coffees and tours of cramped government buildings. For national security reasons, the outgoing administration needed to get the next administration read into what was going on internally, and part of that meant giving the new folks access to government tech and a chance to start staffing the government-in-waiting. It’s why Kaufman, who may be the best embodiment of an institutionalist as you’ll find in Washington, met so little resistance in passing his pair of bills.
Source: Times Of India