Democrats in Congress on Monday night said they are happy General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily Murphy declared Joe Biden the apparent president-elect, opening the door to an orderly transition of power, but stopped short of giving her or the Trump administration credit for the move they say should have already happened.
The "ascertainment" by the GSA opens the door for Biden's team to get intelligence reports, access government offices and resources, and work with current officials on the handoff of power. It ended an awkward period of limbo in which all major news organizations had called the presidential race for Biden based on his significant leads in several states, leading Biden to spin up his transition organization and start naming officials -- but the Trump administration had not yet officially acknowledged that Biden will almost certainly be the president on Jan. 20.
"It's about time," Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said in a tweet. "Each day a peaceful transition was delayed was a day lost in ensuring we could fight this pandemic, plan for vaccine distribution, reopen our economy and be prepared to counter the national security threats facing our nation."
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Trump has not conceded the race and insisted on Monday evening that he will continue to pursue legal challenges to the election results in states that he lost. "Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good... fight" Trump said, before calling the ascertainment "initial protocols" and "preliminary work" that is "in the best interest of our Country."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., mocked Trump's non-concession in a statement Monday.
"This is probably the closest thing to a concession that President Trump could issue," Schumer said. "Let us all now - Democrats and Republicans, the Trump Administration and the incoming Biden Administration -- unite together for a smooth and peaceful transition that will benefit America."
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Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., slammed Murphy: "It should not have taken the ire of Congress and the American public to convince Administrator Murphy to do the right thing. Her actions were dangerous and Congress must ensure it never happens again."
"I am heartened that President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will now finally be allowed to fully engage in preparing for some of the biggest crises our nation has faced in decades," Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the House Oversight Committee chairwoman, said. "But make no mistake—it is no cause for celebration that members of the Trump Administration refused to follow the law for weeks while coronavirus cases spiked to catastrophic levels."
Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., said "this delay has created unnecessary risks to our national security and pandemic response."
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., whose endorsement is widely thought to have been the turning point of Biden's primary campaign, also emphasized the "hundreds of Americans dying from the virus each day." He said the "ascertainment will give Biden "access to the critical information they need to be prepared on Day 1 to protect American lives."
Republicans, meanwhile, had more of a split response to the announcement Monday, which came after a letter from Murphy to Biden was publicized.
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Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., became the latest of a steady trickle of Republican officials to recognize Biden as the president-elect in a tweet that came minutes after the GSA news broke Tuesday as Michigan certified its election results in favor of Biden.
"With Michigan’s certifying it’s results, Joe Biden has over 270 electoral college votes," Cassidy said in a pair of tweets. "President Trump’s legal team has not presented evidence of the massive fraud which would have had to be present to overturn the election. I voted for President Trump but Joe Biden won. The transition should begin for the sake of the country."
Cassidy joined Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and several other top GOP lawmakers in acknowledging publicly that Biden will be the next president.
But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in an appearance on FeedLine.net' "Hannity" on Monday night, continued to encourage Trump in his legal challenges to election results during a conversation that was mainly about the critical U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia.
"President Trump, keep fighting," Graham told guest host Trey Gowdy. "We need to change this law in Georgia where a single person can validate signatures voting by mail. It's a nightmare for us. So President Trump, keep fighting, keep challenging these systems."
Graham has been one of the most vocal members of the GOP, along with Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., in fighting for recounts in Georgia on behalf of Trump. As of Monday night, Graham still was not acknowledging that Biden is the president-elect, saying "if the president falls short and Biden gets to be president, you're going to have Pelosi, Schumer and Biden. That's the trifecta from hell for big government."
Meanwhile, Biden himself has not commented on the ascertainment as of Tuesday morning, although his transition team did, calling the GSA move "final."
"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," Biden-Harris Transition Executive Director Yohannes Abraham said in a statement. "This final decision is a definitive administrative action to formally begin the transition process with federal agencies."
Shortly after the ascertainment by the GSA, Biden tweeted out a ".gov" website about his transition which solicited resumes for political appointees. The existence of the site, with Trump still president, was the most tangible evidence yet that the U.S. will have a peaceful transfer of power from one president to another as it has done without fail since 1797.
It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth; Then He turned to the heavens, and made them into seven firmaments; and of all things He hath perfect knowledge. (The Cow 29 )