Biden aide says GSA holdup prevents background checks on cabinet picks
Posted: 2020-11-22 03:14:51    (see more from thehill.com)

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump campaign files for new recount in Georgia GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results Judge dismisses Trump camp's Pennsylvania lawsuit in scathing ruling MORE’s chief of staff Ron Klain said on Sunday that the General Services Administration's (GSA) refusal to ascertain Biden as the winner of the election was preventing his team from conducting background checks on people he wants in his cabinet.

"We're not getting background checks, we're not in position to get background checks on cabinet nominees and so there are definite impacts. Those impacts escalate every day," Klain said on ABC's "This Week." "And I hope that the administrator of the GSA will do her job. "The law only requires her to find who is the apparent victor of the election, and I can’t imagine there’s any dispute, any dispute, that Joe Biden is the apparent winner of the presidential election."

Klain told host George StephanopoulosGeorge Robert StephanopoulosRepublicans split on Biden win as Trump digs in Cuomo: 'The political pressure of denying COVID is gone' with Trump defeat Sunday shows - Biden win reverberates MORE the Biden transition would announce cabinet appointments on Tuesday.

"You're going to see the first of the president's cabinet appointments on Tuesday of this week, meeting the pace of — beating in fact — the pace that was set by the Obama-Biden transition, beating the pace set by the Trump transition. So you're gonna see the first cabinet picks this Tuesday," Klain said.

Biden said last week he had decided his pick for treasury secretary.

On Thursday, Democratic Reps. Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyHouse committee chairs demand briefing from GSA head on presidential transition HHS scraps celebrity COVID-19 ad campaign aimed at 'defeating despair' Maloney wins reelection in New York MORE (D-N.Y.) and Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations Wasserman Schultz pitches climate plan in race to chair Appropriations House committee chairs demand briefing from GSA head on presidential transition MORE (D-N.Y.), the chairwomen of two House committees, sent a letter to GSA head Emily Murphy, demanding to know why she had not signed off on documents that would begin the transition process and recognize Biden as president-elect.

Klain said the obstructed transition process was impacting other aspects of Biden's future administration, including the potential distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Well obviously it doesn't delay distribution while Donald Trump's in charge but on January 20 Joe Biden will be in charge. And if there isn't a seamless flow of information now, so that we know what we're getting ourselves into, so we know what plans they made, so we know what gaps there are in the plans, then, I do think there's risk that that distribution has gaps and lapses starting on January 20," Klain said.

When asked what to expect at a Biden inauguration on Jan. 20, Klain said the team would incorporate public health protocols just as it had done during the campaign.

"We started some consultations with the House and Senate leadership on that," Klain said. "Obviously this is not going to be the same kind of inauguration we've had in the past," said Klain. "They're going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in spread of the disease. That's our goal."