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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.

Go deeper

Business leaders urge Republicans to drop Electoral College challenge

Sen. Ted Cruz. Photo: Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images

U.S. business leaders are urging Republicans to drop their plans to object to certifying the 2020 election results, saying such efforts "run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy."

Driving the news: Several Republican senators, led by Ted Cruz (R-Texas), as well as a group of House members say they will oppose certifying Joe Biden's win, despite the fact that nearly all lawsuits brought by President Trump, his allies and his legal team to challenge the election results have been dismissed.

Former D.C. Guard alleges Army Generals lied about Jan. 6 response

Members of the National Guard and Capitol police keep a small group of pro-Trump demonstrators away from the Capitol following the insurrection on Jan. 6. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A former D.C. National Guard official has alleged that top Army generals "lied" to Congress in their testimony on the U.S. Capitol riot, Politico first reported Monday.

The big picture: Col. Earl Matthews, who was serving on Jan. 6, alleges in a memo that the official version on the military response is "worthy of the best Stalinist or North Korea propagandist" and that the Pentagon inspector general's November report on it features "myriad inaccuracies, false or misleading statements, or examples of faulty analysis."

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.