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GSA Administrator Emily Murphy. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Joe Biden's transition team is warning that it may take "legal action" if the General Services Administration fails to make an official determination that Biden has won the election.

Driving the news: GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, a Trump political appointee, has not made the declaration — a so-called "ascertainment" — that would allow officials from Biden’s agency review teams access to the information they need in order to get to work.

  • "There's a number of levers on the table and all options are certainly available," a Biden transition official told reporters.
  • "It's a changing situation and certainly rather fluid."

The big picture: The Presidential Transition Act governs how the outgoing administration is required to cooperate with the incoming one, smoothing the way for a peaceful transfer for power.

  • Most official GSA ascertainments have been made within 24 hours of the election, with the exception of the 2000 contest, when the outcome in Florida was down to some 500 votes, the officials said.

Why it matters: Absent a GSA declaration, the incoming administration doesn’t have access to agencies to look at the non-public books, slowing their ability to change policy direction. They also don’t have access to:

  • Office space, computers and mobile phones.
  • The $6.3 million in appropriated funds.
  • Classified information or secured facilities to review it.
  • The ability to request security clearances or background checks for potential cabinet nominees.

Go deeper

Biden to propose pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

One his first day in office, President-elect Biden will propose legislation that would give an eight-year path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

Why it matters: The proposal — the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 — is a stark shift away from former President Trump's harsh policies and rhetoric on immigration and fulfills a campaign promise of Biden's.

The hard math behind America's labor shortage

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Congressional Budget Office; Chart: Axios Visuals

Yes, the pandemic has created unusual temporary labor market dynamics. But in the bigger picture, the 2010s were a golden age for companies seeking cheap labor. The 2020s are not.

The big picture: In the 2010s, the massive millennial generation was entering the workforce, the massive baby bo0m generation was still hard at work, and there was a multi-year hangover from the deep recession caused by the global financial crisis.

Advocates fret Roe v. Wade's 49th anniversary could be its last

Photo: Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Women's March Inc

As Saturday marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court's landmark decision that legalized abortion access in the U.S., advocates warn the ruling is "more at risk now than ever."

The big picture: The Supreme Court in December heard a challenge to a Mississippi 15-week abortion ban that could throw Roe's survival into question, or at least narrow its scope.