Politics

GSA offers to brief lawmakers on Biden transition next week; Emily Murphy won't host

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Key Points
  • The agency withholding funding from President-elect Joe Biden's transition said it is willing to grant House Democrats' requests for a briefing.
  • But the head of that agency, General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, will not be leading that briefing, despite the demand from House Committee chairs that she "personally" explain herself.
  • Rather, Deputy Administrator Allison Brigati will "host a 30 minute briefing on Monday, November 30" — a week later than Democrats had asked for.
  • The Democrats appeared to reject the offer, demanding instead that Murphy brief them by Tuesday.
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The federal agency that is withholding funding from President-elect Joe Biden's transition by refusing to "ascertain" his victory over President Donald Trump said Monday that it is willing to grant House Democrats' requests for a briefing.

But the head of that agency, General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, will not be leading that briefing, despite the demand from House Committee chairs that she "personally" explain herself.

Rather, a GSA spokesperson said in a statement to CNBC that Deputy Administrator Allison Brigati will "host a 30 minute briefing on Monday, November 30" — a week later than Democrats had asked for in a frustrated joint letter sent to Murphy last Thursday.

The spokesperson also said that GSA will host another, "in-person-only" briefing for staff on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

In a response released Monday afternoon, the Democrats appeared to reject the offer, demanding instead that Murphy brief them by Tuesday.

"We cannot wait yet another week to obtain basic information about your refusal to make the ascertainment determination," they wrote in their latest letter.

"Every additional day that is wasted is a day that the safety, health, and well-being of the American people is imperiled as the incoming Biden-Harris Administration is blocked from fully preparing for the coronavirus pandemic, our nation's dire economic crisis, and our national security."

Under the law, Murphy has the power to free up millions of dollars that are allocated toward presidential transition spending. The transition can avail itself of those funds only after Murphy ascertains the winner of the election.

News outlets have called the election for Biden, who is projected to win 306 Electoral College votes to Trump's 232. But Trump has refused to concede the race, and instead has falsely asserted that he won. His campaign's lawyers, as well as lawyers for other supporters, have launched a flurry of lawsuits in a series of swing states, attempting — so far fruitlessly — to stop those key votes from being counted.

"Your actions in blocking transition activities required under the law are having grave effects," the Democrats wrote to Murphy in their initial letter last Thursday.

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They accused the Trump appointee of "undermining the orderly transfer of power, impairing the incoming Administration's ability to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, hampering its ability to address our nation's dire economic crisis, and endangering our national security."

That letter, and the follow-up Monday, were signed by two House committee chairs — Oversight and Reform's Carolyn Maloney and Nita Lowey of Appropriations — as well as subcommittee leaders Gerald Connolly and Mike Quigley.

They have asked Murphy to reply to their latest request by 5 p.m. on Monday.

Earlier Monday afternoon, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal issued a scathing statement of his own.

"With your refusal to abide by the procedures established by the Presidential Transition Act, you are complicit in an unprecedented challenge to our Democratic norms and are endangering the lives and livelihoods of people across the nation," Neal wrote to Murphy.

This is developing news. Please check back for updates.