President-elect Joe Biden and his team have welcomed the news of the formal transition process to his administration officially launching, saying it’s needed to get the pandemic “under control”.
“Today’s decision is a needed step to begin tackling the challenges facing our nation, including getting the pandemic under control and our economy back on track,” Yohannes Abraham, the executive director to the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition, said in a statement.
“This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies,” Mr Abraham added.
The General Services Administration (GSA) informed the president-elect on Monday that the Trump administration was ready to begin the formal transition process, nearly three weeks after the presidential election.
In a letter to Mr Biden, GSA Administrator Emily Murphy said she would allow for the transition to happen, which would give his administration access to briefings, office space, funding, and other governmental services they will require prior to taking office on 20 January.
Mr Abraham said the move showed that Mr Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were the “apparent winners” of the presidential election despite Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.
“The GSA Administrator has ascertained President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the apparent winners of the election, providing the incoming Administration with the resources and support necessary to carry out a smooth and peaceful transfer of power,” he said.
Ms Murphy claimed she was not pressured by the White House to delay the transition.
"Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts," Ms Murphy said in the letter. "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. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination."
...fight, and I believe we will prevail! Nevertheless, in the best interest of our Country, 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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 23, 2020
The administrator faced backlash in recent weeks for withholding the federal funding from the president-elect and his team even though he was declared the winner of the 2020 election two weeks ago after winning 306 Electoral College votes to Mr Trump’s 232 votes.
After the news broke of the letter sent by Ms Murphy to the incoming Biden administration, Mr Trump tweeted out a statement saying he supported the move.
“In the best interest of our Country, 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,” Mr Trump said, adding that he thought he would still “prevail” in overturning the election results.
The lack of approval from the GSA until now did not stop Mr Biden from starting his transition process. He’s already announced several Cabinet picks, met with foreign leaders, and launched his own coronavirus task force.
But the recent announcement from the GSA will give Mr Biden more access to government agencies, data, and $6.3m in funding.