Bill to ease presidential transitions heads to full Senate

Bipartisan legislation to ensure seamless presidential changeovers sailed through a key Senate oversight panel on Monday evening.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act (S. 3196) by a voice vote without amendments, advancing it to the full Senate.

The measure -- introduced in mid-April by Sens. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, George Voinovich, R-Ohio, and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. -- is aimed at making permanent the practices that helped smooth the transition from the George W. Bush administration to the Obama administration. It would encourage earlier planning on the part of incumbent administrations by authorizing funding for transition activities. Candidates would be eligible for logistical support from the General Services Administration immediately upon nomination, and they could set aside campaign funds to supplement GSA's services and to cover other transition-related expenses.

"Of course, presidential personalities and uncontrollable circumstances will always be a driving factor in the success of future presidential transitions," Voinovich said when the bill was introduced. "But we in Congress can contribute to future successes by providing sufficient assistance and formal avenues to more robust transition planning, and by working to address the stigma that has unfortunately been associated with so-called presumptuous transition planning before the general election."

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