Pressure grows on US agency to approve Trump-to-Biden transition
WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - A little-known agency that keeps the United States federal bureaucracy running is the biggest impediment to new efforts to fight the coronavirus outbreak, Democratic President-elect Joe Biden said on Wednesday (Nov 18).
"There's a whole lot of things that we just don't have available to us," Mr Biden said, including real-time data on personal protective equipment and the distribution plan for Covid-19 vaccines.
Ms Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), must "ascertain" the winner of the Nov 3 presidential election between Mr Biden and Republican President Donald Trump. That is a condition of releasing funds and resources to the winner, but she has so far not done so.
Despite a clear margin of victory for Mr Biden, Mr Trump has refused to concede, and his legal challenges are fizzling.
Ms Murphy has sole authority to release salaries, office space, official e-mail addresses and intelligence briefings to an incoming administration, which formally takes over with Mr Biden's inauguration on Jan 20.
"Unless it's made available soon, we're going to be behind by weeks or months", in his administration's coronavirus effort, Mr Biden told emergency responders, nurses and other front-line workers at an online event in Washington. "So, I just want to tell you that that's the only slowdown right now that we have."
A third wave of coronavirus infection has gripped the US, and the country's death toll crossed 250,000 people on Wednesday.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Wednesday described a "crazy situation" where he speaks daily with the White House coronavirus experts and has a separate channel of communications with Mr Biden's advisory board on the virus.
"Those two camps aren't speaking. And that's a big problem," Mr Murphy, a Democrat, told CNN. "That is a major problem that could put both the distribution of the vaccine at risk and, more broadly, lives at risk."
The GSA's Ms Murphy is under mounting pressure from election watchdogs, Democrats, a growing number of Republicans, the American Medical Association and her predecessor to recognise Mr Biden as the winner.
GSA的墨菲面临着来自选举监督机构、民主党人、越来越多的共和党人、美国医学会(American Medical Association)和她的前任的越来越大的压力，要求她承认拜登是胜利者。
"She's going to make an ascertainment when the winner is clear, as laid out in the Constitution," a GSA spokesman said before Mr Biden's remarks.
Late on Wednesday, the leaders of the National Association of Manufacturers, including Dow Chemical CEO Jim Fitterling, called on Ms Murphy to sign the needed papers "to ensure manufacturers can continue to work seamlessly with the federal government" on challenges such as vaccine distribution.
周三晚些时候，包括陶氏化学(Dow Chemical)首席执行官吉姆·菲特林(Jim Fitterling)在内的全美制造商协会(National Association Of Manufacturing)领导人呼吁墨菲签署必要的文件，“以确保制造商能够继续与联邦政府无缝合作”，应对疫苗分销等挑战。
"There is no time to waste nor room for error," they wrote in a joint letter. "We know what is at stake: American lives and livelihoods."
The bipartisan National Task Force on Election Crises said on Tuesday it was "past time" for the GSA administrator to certify Mr Biden.
由两党组成的全国选举危机特别工作组(National Task Force)周二表示，美国国家安全局局长已经“过了”为拜登颁发证书的时候了。
"This isn't about politics. It's about honouring free and fair elections. It's also about lost lives," the group said.
Mr Trump claims, without providing evidence, that he was cheated out of a victory by widespread fraud and has fired off a flurry of lawsuits that judges have mostly rejected.
An administration official said the White House was not pressuring Ms Murphy to withhold recognition of Mr Biden as the winner.
Ms Murphy is relying on precedent, her office said, citing the five-week delay after the 2000 election before Republican George W. Bush was declared the winner.
While the 2000 result hung on 537 votes in just one state - Florida - Mr Trump would need to reverse Mr Biden's large margins in three of four closely contested states, something election experts and a growing number of Republicans say is virtually impossible.
The GSA did not say how or when Ms Murphy would make her decision, and the agency has not responded to a congressional letter asking the same questions, a House of Representatives Subcommittee on Government Operations official said.
Mr Trump administration sources said it was reasonable to wait until vote recounts are completed and the legal challenges have been resolved - a process that is continuing.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign requested a partial recount in Wisconsin in two heavily Democratic counties.
Mr Dave Barram, who was GSA administrator in 2000, said Ms Murphy contacted him shortly before the election to discuss a possible repeat of a contested scenario like that between Democrat Al Gore and Mr Bush.
2000年担任GSA局长的戴夫·巴拉姆(Dave Barram)表示，墨菲在大选前不久与他联系，讨论可能重演民主党人阿尔·戈尔(Al Gore)和布什之间的争斗场景。
"In 2000, there was no clear winner, and both Gore and Bush knew it. This is different. It's getting overwhelmingly evident that Trump should concede," Mr Barram said.