President-elect Joe Biden answers a question as he leaves The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Monday.

President-elect Joe Biden answers a question as he leaves The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., on Monday. Susan Walsh/AP

Transition Roundup: Concerns Over Biden’s Pick for Defense Secretary; Calls for Disability Representation in Biden Administration 

There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.

Tuesday is “Safe Harbor Day,” which is the deadline for states to resolve any disputes over their election results and certify them before the Electoral College votes on December 14. President Trump said late last month he would leave the White House if the Electoral College votes for President-elect Biden, but has continued to claim there was widespread fraud in the presidential election, despite losing his legal challenges so far. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed. 

Biden picked Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin to be Defense secretary, Politico reported on Monday. “Biden has chosen a barrier-breaking former four-star officer who was the first Black general to command an Army division in combat and the first to oversee an entire theater of operations,” said the report. “Austin, who also ran U.S. Central Command before retiring in 2016, emerged as a top-tier candidate in recent days after initially being viewed as a longshot for the job.” If confirmed, he will be the first Black Defense secretary. 

There is some trepidation about Austin, however, because he will need a waiver from Congress since he hasn’t been out of the military for the seven years required. That would only be the third time a waiver has been required since Congress passed the National Security Act in 1947. “The Pentagon now needs to re-establish traditional national security processes and return to a sense of normalcy,” Jim Golby, former special adviser to vice presidents Joe Biden and Mike Pence, wrote in The New York Times on Monday night. “President-elect Biden no doubt will want to streamline civilian oversight of war plans, increase transparency surrounding military operations and chart a new and perhaps very different vision for the defense budget.” Although Austin “is a fine public servant” he or “any other recently retired general or admiral” should not lead the Pentagon. 

On Tuesday, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies failed to pass a resolution “essentially acknowledging” Biden as the winner of the election because all Republicans opposed it, Politico reported. The members are Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. (chairman); Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. 

In order to fully fulfill his mission to create an administration that will “look like America,” RespectAbility, a nonprofit that advocates for opportunities for those with disabilities, called on Biden to prioritize disability representation. “The decisions made in the months ahead by the Biden-Harris administration are going to significantly impact the one-in-five Americans living with disabilities,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president and CEO of RespectAbility, in a statement on Monday. “Out of the more than 500 people named as part of the transition process, we only know of four individuals who have public disabilities or disability experience.”

Michael Pack, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, is planning to make a final purge during the last few weeks of the Trump administration. This would be for the individuals he put on administrative leave, CNBC reported on Monday. The news comes less than a week after the Office of Special Counsel said there was a “substantial likelihood” of wrongdoing by Pack and other top officials, as Government Executive previously reported. 

Upcoming: Biden will give remarks to introduce his health appointees and nominees at 1:40 p.m. (time subject to change). 

Today’s GovExec Daily podcast episode looks at what federal managers can expect during a transition.

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