A Peaceful Presidential Transition is Fundamental to our Democracy

November 14, 2020

Dear Friends,

The smooth and peaceful transfer from one presidency to the next is one of America’s greatest achievements and a fundamental aspect of our democracy.

Under the 1963 Presidential Transition Act, the General Services Administration (GSA) is granted the power and responsibility to “ascertain” the “apparent successful candidate” in each presidential election, and to jump-start any corresponding process needed for a smooth and stable transition of power.

While we can very easily take this process for granted, relatively few great nations in the history of the world have been able to achieve such a transfer of power so peacefully or consistently.

Sadly this transition is starting to look different. Despite its critical role in initiating and overseeing a transition among federal agencies, and the certainty, security and integrity of the recent election, the GSA is refusing to move forward with its necessary determination.

That determination has several important effects. First, it would enable the new administration to access critical funds to hire transition staff and begin evaluation of federal agency operations. This includes access to office space, details on agency programs and operations, and the direct hiring of a vast governing team, with each new administration obligated to fill about 4,000 political appointments across the U.S. government.

More importantly, a GSA designation grants security clearances to ensure that the incoming administration is ready to tackle any and all threats to national security.

That security concern is not hypothetical. On Thursday, more than 160 bipartisan former national security officials wrote a letter to GSA Administrator and Trump appointee Emily Murphy, making clear that obstructing the transition of power is a direct threat to national security.

As an example, the letter points to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) report, which, “found that the 36-day delay in transition owing to the contested 2000 election led to a six-month delay in fully staffing the national security apparatus under the Bush Administration, which left our country more vulnerable to foreign adversaries.”

A growing list of Republican lawmakers, including Senators Chuck Grassley and John Thune, have said that President-elect Biden should receive daily intelligence briefings currently being denied to him because of the Trump Administration’s refusal to concede.

As our nation continues to reach scary new heights in the COVID-19 pandemic, we don’t have time to waste on political games nor any reason to wait.

President-elect Biden has begun the planning process for a transition, announcing earlier this week a team of health experts who will serve on his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. But an official declaration by the GSA is needed to free up funds and get the ball rolling on a coordinated federal response. As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across the U.S. continue to climb to unprecedented rates, a national plan could not be more urgent or consequential.

We cannot afford further efforts to deny or delay our time-honored American tradition of this peaceful transition. I urge President Trump and my Republican colleagues to set aside partisan politics for the good of our nation and work with us on a united approach that will get it done for the American people.

If we are to fully address the challenges we face, we must come together.

As always, thank you for reading.

Your friend,


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, my office and I have worked to make sure you remain informed with the latest federal updates, recommendations and relief efforts. With that in mind, here are a few recent developments that may be of interest to you:

  • New York businesses and residents affected by severe storms and flooding on Aug. 24, 2020, including those in Rensselaer and Saratoga, can apply for low-interest disaster loans from the SBA.
  • These services are only available for the New York disaster declaration #16772 as a result of severe storms and flooding, and not for COVID-19 related assistance.
  • Types of Disaster Loans Available:
    • Business Physical Disaster Loans – to repair or replace disaster-damaged property, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Available to businesses of any sizes as well as non-profit organizations.
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) – available to help small businesses and non-profit organizations meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster.
    • Home Disaster Loans – to homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate and personal property, including automobiles.
  • The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Jan. 5, 2021. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Aug. 6, 2021.
  • Apply online with SBA at: DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov/.
    • For one-on-one assistance with applying call: (800) 659-2955.