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We need a (common) 'sense of the Senate' resolution on transition planning

We need a (common) 'sense of the Senate' resolution on transition planning
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The presidential election of 2020 has not been all that close. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Should deficits matter any more? Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE will receive well over 5 million more votes throughout the nation than President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE. All reputable and independent organizations have projected Biden as the winner of more than 270 electoral votes. If he carries Arizona and Georgia, where he maintains small but probably recount-proof leads, Biden’s total in the Electoral College will reach 306, the exact number President Trump boasted about in 2016.

Nonetheless, President Trump has undermined the legitimacy of our elections by raising baseless charges of fraud, refusing to concede, launching lawsuits that are virtually certain to fail, and blocking President-elect Biden from beginning transition planning.

Although the outcome is sufficiently clear (80 percent of Americans and more than 50 percent of Republicans believe that Biden has won), last week Emily Murphy, administrator of the General Services Administration, refused to issue a letter of “ascertainment,” allowing Biden’s team to move into government offices, meet with Trump administration officials, receive classified briefings, and begin background checks on Cabinet nominees.

This delay is unwarranted, wrong and dangerous.

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Although the fall/winter season has only just begun, the Coronavirus is raging, with 120,000 new cases each day; more than 65,000 Americans have been hospitalized, and fatalities are rising sharply. A vaccine may soon be on the way, requiring one of the most massive and challenging distribution efforts in American history. Coordination is imperative — and a seamless handoff from the Trump COVID Task Force to the Biden administration could save tens of thousands of lives and aid the economic recovery.

It’s time for Republicans — especially members of the United States Senate — to stand up, speak out, and do something.

A “Sense of the Senate” resolution on transition planning is an appropriate way for them to send a message to the White House — and to apprehensive Americans throughout the country. Although such a resolution is non-binding, it would be aimed at one person — and he will get the message.

The evidence is mounting that Senate Republicans know it is the right thing to do. Four of them — Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyJust five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback Press: The case against Citizen Trump MORE (R-Utah), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators discussing Trump censure resolution Senate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Just five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE (R-Maine), Ben SasseBen SasseJust five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional Senate committee advances Biden's DHS pick despite Republican pushback Juan Williams: Let America be America MORE (R-Neb.), and Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time The Memo: Chances recede of GOP breaking with Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Focus on vaccine, virus, travel MORE (R-S.D.) — broke with Trump to congratulate Biden on his victory. It is in our national interest, Romney declared, that Biden’s transition team “be given all access as quickly as possible.” Rounds indicated that Trump and Biden “should be able to work out any issues between them to allow certain parts of [the transition] to move forward.”

The outcome of the election “isn’t 100 percent certain, but it is likely,” said Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyGovernment used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Appeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel MORE (R-Pa.), “so I think a transition process ought to begin.”

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Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court upholds ruling invalidating Dakota Access, but doesn't shut down pipeline | Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency | Biden seeks to bolster consultation with Indian Country The Memo: Chances recede of GOP breaking with Trump Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE (R-Fla.) gave voice to what should be obvious: “I don’t think allowing the General Services Administration to move forward,” Rubio said, “prejudices in any way any of the legal claims the president intends to make.”

The views of these senators are almost certainly shared by more of their colleagues on the red side of the aisle. According to Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsHawley files ethics counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators Moderates vow to 'be a force' under Biden Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts MORE (D-Del.), a number of Republican senators have asked him to congratulate Biden, apologizing that “I can’t say that publicly yet.”

On Wednesday, James LankfordJames Paul LankfordHawley files ethics counter-complaint against seven Democratic senators Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury The Hill's 12:30 Report: What to expect for inauguration MORE (R-Utah) indicated that if Biden’s transition team was not receiving national security briefings by Friday, he would step in. And on Thursday, several more GOP senators — including Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Senate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Just five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE (R-S.D.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court upholds ruling invalidating Dakota Access, but doesn't shut down pipeline | Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency | Biden seeks to bolster consultation with Indian Country Court upholds ruling invalidating Dakota Access, but doesn't shut down pipeline Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone MORE (R-N.D.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanFormer Ohio state health director reportedly considering Senate bid Senate GOP signals it's likely to acquit Trump for second time Just five GOP senators vote Trump impeachment trial is constitutional MORE (R-Ohio) — recommended that classified briefings and/or full transition planning begin immediately.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHumanist Report host criticizes 'conservative Democrats:' They 'hold more power' than progressives Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' Biden's Cabinet gradually confirmed by Senate MORE (R-Ky.), who relishes his reputation as “The Grim Reaper,” will, no doubt, be less than enthusiastic about bringing a “Sense of the Senate” resolution on transition planning to the floor — but he knows that Donald Trump will soon be an ex-president. McConnell understands that this farce is not likely to last much longer.

And so, he may soon be willing to give the soon-to-be former president a shove — not necessarily because it’s the right thing to do, but because Trump’s antics are beginning to give Republican enablers a bad name.

Glenn C. Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. He is the co-author (with Stuart Blumin) of "Rude Republic: Americans and Their Politics in the Nineteenth Century."