The senior General Service Administration official rejected a request to notify Congress by Monday of his decision not to recognize the victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., escalating a growing political row over the money and government access set aside for the presidential election. transition.
The Democratic chairmen of the House Oversight and Reform and Appropriations committees last week demanded that the agency administrator, Emily Murphy, provide a briefing to lawmakers no later than Monday on why she had abandoned the practice earlier and had so far refused to approve the start. of the process for Mr. Biden. Seeking to pressure Ms Murphy to change course, Democrats also threatened to call her to testify in a public hearing.
But as the deadline passed on Monday, the GSA suggested Ms Murphy would not meet with key lawmakers on the issue, instead offering a 30-minute briefing by her deputy, Allison Brigati, on November 30.
Keen with the response, House Democrats wrote Ms Murphy another letter, demanding a briefing on Tuesday.
“We cannot wait another week for basic information on your refusal to make the verification decision,” wrote the Presidents, New York Reps Carolyn B. Maloney and Nita M. Lowey, and the Presidents. from groups that oversee and fund GSA, Representatives Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia and Mike Quigley of Illinois.
“Every extra day that is wasted is a day when the safety, health and well-being of the American people are threatened as the new Biden-Harris administration is prevented from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, the terrible crisis economic of our country and to our country. security ”, indicates the letter
They gave Ms. Murphy until 5 p.m. to respond.
Top Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees have also sought to increase pressure on Ms Murphy to begin the formal transition. In a letter, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate committee, said that while classified briefings for Mr Biden and his team did not begin immediately, their ability to “respond appropriately to any threat at the start of his term ”could be hampered. .
These threats could include pandemic and terrorism, said Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, who heads the House Intelligence Committee.
“Our democracy and the orderly transition of power from one president to another must not be undermined by a candidate’s inexplicable refusal to accept the clear results of an election, or by the inaction of government officials like you, ”Mr Schiff wrote in his own letter.
Mr. Biden has tried to stay on the sidelines of the growing struggle between Congressional Democrats and President Trump’s administration. Monday’s back-and-forth came as he continued to form a cabinet, announcing a handful of nominees.
Ms Murphy has given no public explanation for her delay, but it has coincided with Mr Trump’s attempts to overturn the election results. Without the administrator’s approval, Mr. Biden’s team cannot move into government offices in Washington, formally meet with federal agencies, or conduct business involving sensitive government secrets.