Transition Roundup: Barr To Resign; Inauguration Committee Outlines Public Health Plans
Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.
The Electoral College affirmed on Monday that Joe Biden won the presidential election. Less than a month ago, President Trump said he would leave the White House on January 20 if the Electoral College voted for Biden, but he is still pushing false claims about voter fraud.
“Time and again, President Trump’s lawyers presented their arguments to state officials, state legislatures, state and federal courts, and ultimately to the United States Supreme Court, twice...And in every case, no cause or evidence was found to reverse or question or dispute the results,” Biden said in a speech on Monday night. The “enormous political pressure, verbal abuse, and even threats of physical violence” regarding the election were “unconscionable,” he said. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed.
Minutes after the news about the Electoral College, Trump tweeted that Attorney General William Barr would be resigning, effective December 23. This came after Barr told the Associated Press on December 1 that the Justice Department has not found any evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election that would change the outcome, directly contradicting the president. However, Trump praised Barr in the tweet and Barr lauded Trump’s accomplishments over the last four years in his resignation letter. Barr also wrote: “I appreciate[d] the opportunity to update you this afternoon on the department’s review of voter fraud allegations in the 2020 election and how these allegations will continue to be pursued.” Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will become acting attorney general and Richard Donoghue, Rosen’s top deputy, will take over the duties of deputy attorney general.
The Office of Personnel Management hasn’t issued a transition guide yet as it has done in the past, which adds to concerns that the agency has become politicized, Federal News Network reported on Monday. Read more from Government Executive about recent personnel moves and the new, controversial employee classification here.
Biden’s transition team said on Monday it hasn’t made a decision yet about when the president-elect will receive the coronavirus vaccine, Politico reported. Trump already said he and White House staff wouldn’t get the first doses. “While most of the scarce Pfizer vaccine is now on its way to hospitals and nursing homes across the country, some of the first tranche was reserved for federal leaders to ensure the government can continue to function as U.S. deaths and hospitalizations peak,” said the report. “The situation is more uncertain for the scores of political aides and career civil servants in the federal bureaucracy.”
Antony Blinken, Biden’s nominee for secretary of State, will meet with current Secretary Mike Pompeo on Thursday for the first time, CNN reported.
The ongoing investigations into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings and other family conflicts could create a challenge as the president-elect drafts the ethics rules for his administration, The Washington Post reported. “Much is riding on exactly how Biden decides to create the bright line he has promised,” said the report. “Existing ethics rules regulate the disclosure of nonpublic government information and financial conflicts for spouses and minor children, but the business dealings of extended family, for both elected officials and political appointees, traditionally fall into a legal and political gray zone.”
Biden is relying heavily on people he’s known for years and worked with in the Obama administration for his nominees and appointees. According to an analysis by The Washington Post, about 80% of those announced so far have “Obama” on their resumes from either previous White House work or campaign jobs. This has “led to frustration from liberals, civil rights leaders and younger activists, who worry he's relegating racial minorities to lower-status jobs while leaning on Obama-era appointees for key positions,” according to the Post.
Eleven Latina members of Congress wrote to Biden on Monday asking him to nominate at least two Latinas to his Cabinet. They acknowledged his commitment to diversity and added that “by ensuring that the voices and perspectives of all communities are represented in your Cabinet we can ensure the most helpful policies can be implemented quickly to help our nation recover during this difficult time.”
Biden has “quietly” added individuals who have worked for Goldman Sachs, consulting firms such as McKinsey & Co. and Boston Consulting Group, Google and Facebook as well as the daughter of Biden advisers to his transition team, Politico reported on Monday.
On Tuesday, the Presidential Inaugural Committee outlined its initial plan to adhere to public health guidelines for the festivities on January 20. “President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will take their oaths of office at the U.S. Capitol during a historic ceremony that includes vigorous health and safety protocols. President-elect Biden will also deliver an inaugural address that lays out his vision to beat the virus, build back better, and bring the country together,” said the press release. “The ceremony’s footprint will be extremely limited, and the parade that follows will be reimagined.” The committee encouraged the public to watch from home and said more details are to come along with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump loyalist, was among those added to the Pentagon’s policy advisory board on Monday, which comes after a similar shakeup to the business advisory board last week, Politico reported.
The Health and Human Services Department announced a joint final rule on Monday that clarifies HHS won’t discriminate against faith-based organizations that apply for grants or awards and says they don’t have to provide certain services for religious reasons. It will take effect on January 16, which is four days before President-elect Biden is sworn in.
The Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency announced on Tuesday it elected Allison Lerner, National Science Foundation IG, to be the next chairperson. She will replace Michael Horowitz, Justice IG, who has been the chair since 2015, and will begin her term on January 1.
Upcoming: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany will hold a press briefing at 1 p.m.
Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode discusses the ongoing transition efforts and Biden’s coronavirus plan for his first 100 days in office.
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