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 Biden will receive well over 5 million more votes throughout the nation than President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump 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 BidenJoe BidenHaiti prime minister warns inequality will cause migration to continue Pelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Erdoğan says Turkey plans to buy another Russian defense system MORE 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.


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 RomneyGraham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Utah), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsLooking to the past to secure America's clean energy future Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike MORE (R-Maine), Ben SasseBen SassePresident of newly recognized union for adult performers boosts membership Romney blasts Biden over those left in Afghanistan: 'Bring them home' Progressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal MORE (R-Neb.), and Mike RoundsMike RoundsSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam The 19 GOP senators who voted for the T infrastructure bill Senate passes T bipartisan infrastructure bill in major victory for Biden 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 ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.), “so I think a transition process ought to begin.”


Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Memo: Biden's immigration problems reach crescendo in Del Rio Democrats face bleak outlook in Florida The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit 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 CoonsDems punch back over GOP holdup of Biden SBA nominee Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict Senate Democrats to Garland: 'It's time to end the federal death penalty' 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 LankfordCOVID faith: Are your religious views 'sincerely held'? Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Afghan evacuation still frustrates GOP senators seek to block dishonorable discharges for unvaccinated troops 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 ThuneSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (R-S.D.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerOn The Money — Democrats rush to finish off infrastructure GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff The Memo: Biden beats Trump again — this time in the Senate MORE (R-N.D.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMajor US port target of attempted cyber attack Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Officials want action on cyberattacks Officials urge Congress to consider fining companies that fail to report cyber incidents MORE (R-Ohio) — recommended that classified briefings and/or full transition planning begin immediately.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation We don't need platinum to solve the debt ceiling crisis The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble 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."