The transition of power to president elect Biden

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Gary Blakeley

Maximillian Palli

Every four years, America has a presidential election and even though it seems like each time people call it “the most important election of our lives,” voters appear to have agreed this election cycle is by far the most important. More than 150 million Americans showed up at the polls to vote for their preferred candidate, the largest turnout in history, breaking the record for most amount of votes received by a presidential candidate twice. As of this article’s release, the Associated Press and most other news outlets have called the race for Joe Biden, declaring him the president-elect. 

The transition of power has generally been called the “lame duck” period and used to last until March until the passage of the 20th Amendment in 1932 moved it to January. Traditionally, the lame duck period is a time of reconciliation and putting aside political differences to ensure a smooth transition of power to the next official. In 2016, then-lame duck Barack Obama met almost immediately with then president-elect Donald Trump to discuss plans and how transitioning would work. This year, however, is markedly different.

This controversy has numerous factors.  Addressing the election results; as of December 8th, Joe Biden has a 2.8% lead in Michigan, a 0.3% lead in Wisconsin, and a 1.2% lead in Pennsylvania (Associated Press, December 8th, 2020). These leads are just enough to grant him the presidency, but many were close enough to trigger an automatic recount of ballots. These close margins coupled with the later counting of Democrat-heavy mail-in ballots caused a “red mirage”, which led to unfounded outcry about voter fraud from the president. As of December 8th, President Trump has not conceded the race due to these allegations, despite an apparent lack of evidence for voter fraud. Since Trump has not officially recognized Biden as the winning candidate, he is not being treated by President Trump as a president-elect, even though many world leaders and other republicans have recognized him as the legitimate president-elect.

Due to national security reasons, the president-elect traditionally receives intelligence briefings so he can be ready for the assumption of office. Multiple news outlets including NBC and FOX News have reported that Joe Biden was not receiving intelligence briefings because the current administration did not recognize him as the legitimate president-elect. Although the president and his cabinet still refuse to recognize Joe Biden, he has started receiving intelligence briefings as of November 30th. This poses a major national security risk, as reviewing intelligence allows Biden’s team to form a national security plan and protect the United States; even if America slacks, terrorists won’t. It also could imply that the Trump administration is attempting to make deals without the transition team’s knowledge.

The other major problem with not recognizing the Biden team is also a problem with intelligence, one regarding the current case numbers. More than 180,000 Americans every day are catching COVID-19, with scientists expecting a sharp increase in numbers over the holidays due to people visiting families and throwing parties. In addition, vaccine distribution will most likely fall into the hands of the Biden administration, and without accurate COVID-19 statistics it will be hard to make a distribution plan, especially with the vaccine being extremely hard to transport and distribute on a large scale due to its temperature requirements of -70 degrees Celsius. 

According to The Washington Post, Administrator Emily Murphy had been withholding funds – reportedly as much as ten million dollars – to the transition team as the administration refuses to view the Biden team as legitimate successors of the White House. On November 23, she finally released the needed funds to the Biden campaign. Biden has recently decided to start fundraising for his transition team. Even if he does raise ten million, vital information about national security threats and coronavirus spread cannot be replaced by fundraising.

So far, most states have certified their results and are moving forward with Biden as the new president and if all goes according to plan, America will have a new administration by January 20th.