Nov 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

First look: GSA warned transition delays hurt communities of color

Navajo elder Emerson Gorman sits with his daughter Naiyahnikai, wife Beverly and grandchild near Steamboat, Arizona.

Navajo elder Emerson Gorman sits with his daughter Naiyahnikai, wife Beverly and grandchild Nizhoni near Steamboat, Arizona. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

A coalition of more than 40 racial justice groups is asking GSA Administrator Emily Murphy to begin the transfer of power to Joe Biden, saying the delays disproportionately hurt people of color and "playing politics with the ascertainment process is playing politics with our lives."

Driving the news: In a draft of a letter to Murphy dated Friday and reviewed by Axios, the group, Just Democracy, urges the General Services Administration official to formally ascertain that Biden likely won the Nov. 3 election so his transition team can gain access to virus mitigation and vaccine distribution plans.

What they're saying: "We urge you to weigh the implications of inaction and recognize the results," the letter says. Delaying now is tantamount to "an effort to support and condone the vanity project of this president and his enablers as he tries to salvage a reputation that is beyond repair at the expense of our lives."

  • The National Urban League said Black and Latino residents have a COVID infection rate per 10,000 that's three times that of their white counterparts.
  • The Navajo Nation recently has seen an uncontrolled spread of the virus in 34 communities across the sprawling 25,0000-square-mile reservation.

Why it matters: Without Murphy's action, Biden's team can't begin to hire or conduct background checks on candidates to oversee the COVID-19 fight in federal agencies.

The other side: The GSA did not respond to a request for comment on the letter. Murphy, a Trump appointee, has so far resisted signing documents to start the transition, and as this CNN report describes, has struggled with the weight of her responsibility and competing pressures.

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