John Barsa, the acting deputy administrator of USAID (USAID), privately told members of his team on Monday that, despite Biden’s projected victory, the transition of power has not started and will not begin until General Services Administration signs off.
The Associated Press and every major TV news network have declared Biden the winner of the election. “The only official announcement about an election result that matters is from the head of GSA. So, until the head of GSA makes a determination as to who won an election, nothing changes,” Barsa said, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by CNBC. “There is no transition in place.”
The General Services Administration (GSA) is tasked with effectively formalizing the winner of the election by signing paperwork that allows for the transition to commence. The agency provides nearly $10 million to fund the transition, provides the team with government emails and office space at every agency and allows access to senior officials throughout the administration.
Emily Murphy, the administrator for the GSA, must sign a letter affirming the election results in order for Biden’s transition to receive the legally mandated millions of dollars in federal funding. She has yet to sign the letter while Trump attempts to get audited election results in key states.
“An ascertainment has not yet been made and its administrator will continue to abide by, and fulfill, all requirements under the law,” GSA spokeswoman Pamela Pennington told The Washington Post.
With President Donald Trump filing lawsuits claiming fraudulent voting activities in several states, and his refusal to concede the election, the administration reportedly has “no immediate plans” to put pen to paper. With the legal battle ongoing it may take some time to play out.
“No agency head is going to get out in front of the president on transition issues right now,” an administration official told The Post, predicting that agency heads would be prohibited from speaking with Biden’s transition team. Murphy’s refusal to sign the paperwork has angered Democrats who think Trump has little recourse to fight the result of the election. “Her action now has to be condemned,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., the chairman of a House subcommittee overseeing the agency, told The Post. “It’s behavior that is consistent with her subservience to wishes of the president himself, and it is clearly harmful to the orderly transition of power.” Biden’s team has said they are optimistic that Murphy will come around.
The refusal could lead to the first transition delay in modern history, with the exception of the 2000 recount.
The Electoral College formal vote will determine the winner on Dec. 14. An administration official told The Post that the agencies had drafted detailed transition plans but would not release them until Biden was formally declared the winner.