WASHINGTON — Nevada Rep. Dina Titus and House lawmakers lambasted the federal administrator overseeing funds for a presidential transition sought by President-elect Joe Biden and demanded an end to the obstruction this week.
Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration, has delayed release of funds to Biden as states continue to count ballots and President Donald Trump contests the results in some states.
Titus, chairwoman of the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee that oversees General Services Administration, said Murphy took an oath to support and defend the Constitution.
“The peaceful transition of power is the foundation of our democracy. For over six decades, the Presidential Transition Act detailed that process,” Titus said. “She must carry out her role.”
Trump’s legal strategy to count all votes in every state, regardless of delays in transition, was defended by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said the president was 100 percent within his right to do so.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says the Biden transition team does not need GSA authorization immediately and can still move forward without access to transition funds.
But in a letter to Murphy dated Nov. 9, Titus, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., cite the Presidential Transition Act of 1963 as legal authority for the GSA to certify and provide funds to the transition team for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Deadline for funds
The three congressional subcommittee chairs also gave Murphy a deadline this week to brief them on why there has been a delay in forwarding funds, office space and transition support to Biden.
“The American people resoundly voted to remove Donald Trump from office,” the letter stated.
“By failing to ascertain Biden’s and Kamala Harris’ clear victory, you are undermining the urgent need for a prompt and effective transition of power in the midst of a global pandemic that must be focused on the safety and well-being of our citizens,” the lawmakers wrote.
Murphy was appointed by Trump in 2017 to head the GSA. She formerly worked for the Republican National Committee.
Titus was the first lawmaker from one of the four early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina to endorse Biden over a large field of Democratic candidates in the 2020 race.
Not the first fight
The battle between Titus and Murphy is not the first.
Titus and Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon, the chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, issued subpoenas for information at the GSA over the lease agreement at the Old Post Office Building with the Trump Organization.
The full committee and subcommittee launched an investigation into whether the business dealing between the federal government and Trump, a sitting presidential, violated constitutional clauses on emoluments, or gifts.
Murphy was hauled before the committee to testify about the failure of the GSA to be forthcoming on the information.
“Your agency has engaged in a pattern of obstruction and obstinance that is unacceptable and damaging to GSA’s ability to manage taxpayer funds in a transparent manner,” DeFazio and Titus wrote in a December 2019 letter to Murphy.
In this week’s letter to Murphy, House lawmakers asked if Trump asked her to block transition funds for Biden and to submit details of any interactions she has had with the president or White House officials.
“We demand that you provide answers to our questions, immediately release congressionally appropriated funds for the incoming Biden administration, and cease obstructing the transition to our 46th Presidential Administration,” wrote Titus, Connolly and Pascrell.