Subcommittee Examines Consequences and Challenges of Truncated Presidential Transition
Washington, D.C. (Dec. 10, 2020)—Today, Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, held a hearing to examine the challenges of a truncated transition during the coronavirus pandemic as well as the harm outgoing administrations may cause during the lame duck period.
“Setting up a transition team is like designing the nation’s largest start-up company,” Chairman Connolly said in his opening statement. “This year these teams are taking the baton on vaccine production and distribution, economic relief, and they face a President hellbent on starting conflict with Iran and endangering our national security. The stakes could not be higher.”
Chairman Connolly also announced plans to introduce the Midnight Regulations Review Act with Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy; and Committee Member Rep. Jackie Speier. The bill would require the Government Accountability Office to create a list of the regulations that the outgoing administration promulgates during this lame duck, which will allow Congress and the incoming administration to review whether they are based on evidence and research or whether they should be considered for amending or elimination.
The Subcommittee heard testimony from Martha Joynt Kumar, Professor Emerita for the Department of Political Science at Towson University; Max Stier, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Partnership for Public Service; and Lisa Brown, Vice President and General Counsel at Georgetown University.
The witnesses discussed the challenges of the ongoing presidential transition and lessons already learned that can improve future transitions:
- “It is vital that the transition of power from one presidential administration to the next be as seamless as possible,” said Ms. Brown.
- “Having a well-organized operation, developed early in an election year, benefits a president and the public as well,” said Ms. Kumar. “With a late start to the 2020 transition, and during a time of a pandemic with an economic crisis as well, we may be at a point for Congress to revisit transition laws and assess where there are needs for legislative fixes.”
- “We do need to clarify the standard for post-election transition support,” said Mr. Stier. “It should be a ministerial decision, it should be clearer, and it should be a low bar. This is not about deciding who’s president; this is about deciding whether someone is going to get the information they need to be ready to govern if they are in charge on January, 20.”