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Democrats accuse GSA of undermining national security by not certifying Biden win

Democratic leaders of key House and Senate panels on Monday accused General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Emily Murphy of undermining national security with her refusal to certify President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFear of insider attack prompts additional FBI screening of National Guard troops: AP Iran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries MORE as the winner of the presidential election.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffAngus King warns of 'grave danger' of Trump revealing classified information Schiff says 'massive intelligence and security failure' led to Capitol breach Sunday shows - Capital locked down ahead of Biden's inauguration MORE (D-Calif.), House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonNew coalition aims to combat growing wave of ransomware attacks Acting DHS chief Chad Wolf stepping down Security boosted for lawmakers' travel around inauguration: report MORE (D-Miss.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerPelosi names 9 impeachment managers Republicans gauge support for Trump impeachment Clyburn blasts DeVos and Chao for 'running away' from 25th Amendment fight MORE (D-N.Y.), and Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSocial media posts, cellphone data aid law enforcement investigations into riots 'Almost Heaven, West Virginia' — Joe Manchin and a 50-50 Senate Confirmation hearing for Biden's DNI pick postponed MORE (D-Va.) all separately sent letters to Murphy underlining their concerns.

Murphy has come under fire from Democrats and some Republicans for so far not signing off on ascertaining Biden as president-elect, with Biden blocked from accessing federal resources and receiving intelligence briefings on threats to the nation until that step is taken.

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Schiff heavily criticized Murphy for not moving forward with the process of certifying Biden as the winner, writing that “you bear enormous responsibility for the harmful effects that will flow from your inaction.”

“The threats our nation faces today are more urgent and complex than in 2000. Most alarming is the rising death total from the pandemic, but we must also confront the continuing dangers of domestic and international terrorism, a rising China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and more,” Schiff wrote in his letter to Murphy. “The risks of an abbreviated transition period with insufficient opportunity for the incoming Administration to fully prepare are manifest and potentially deadly.”

Warner was no less critical of Murphy’s inaction, pointing specifically to concerns over the delay in the transition process impeding the conduction of background checks on incoming Biden administration officials.

“This may unnecessarily slow confirmation of officials like the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, vital positions in the effort to protect our country from foreign threats,” Warner wrote in a separate letter. “There is no plausible reason for you to continue to delay in making this ascertainment. Further delay will damage our national security, and I urge you to proceed with this common sense step immediately.”

Nadler also pointed to concerns over the FBI’s ability to proceed with background checks in criticizing Murphy for not certifying Biden as the winner. 

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“It is no understatement to assert that further delays in performing your statutory duty of ascertainment will have a dangerous, if not life threatening, impact on the ability of the Biden Administration to respond to terrorist threats, reunite families separated at the border, limit the spread of COVID-19, and safeguard competition and consumer welfare, among other concerns,” Nadler wrote in a third letter

Thompson pointed to concerns over Biden not having access to information on critical threats including those from “terrorists, cyber threat actors, and ongoing efforts to spread disinformation.”

“Without this information, the incoming Administration will be less prepared to keep our Nation safe once President-elect Biden is sworn into office on January 20, 2021,” Thompson wrote in a fourth letter to Murphy. 

GSA did not respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the letters. 

GSA offered Monday to brief key congressional committees next week on the transition process. Several House Democratic committee leaders demanded that the briefing happen sooner, citing concerns over “the coronavirus pandemic, our nation’s dire economic crisis, and our national security.”

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The concerns from Democratic lawmakers were raised the same day Biden announced his nominees for key national security positions, with Alejandro Mayorkas nominated to serve as secretary of Homeland Security, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence and Jake Sullivan as national security advisor.

“It is an honor to be nominated and entrusted by the President-elect to serve,” Mayorkas tweeted Monday following the nomination announcement. “It is no small task to lead the Department of Homeland Security, but I will work to restore faith in our institutions, and protect our security here at home.”

Sullivan tweeted that “President-elect Biden taught me what it takes to safeguard our national security at the highest levels of our government. Now, he has asked me to serve as his National Security Advisor. In service, I will do everything in my power to keep our country safe.”