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Public Statements

Kaufman Bill to Improve Presidential Transfers of Power Clears a Final Hurdle

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Bill moves to President's desk for final approval

U.S. Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE) on Tuesday applauded the House of Representatives for passing the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010 (S. 3196) -- bipartisan legislation that would encourage candidates and incumbent administrations to engage in transition planning prior to Election Day.

The bill, introduced in April with Senators George Voinovich (R-OH), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), formalizes many of the recent transition's successes and provides additional resources to help candidates begin their transition efforts earlier. Senior Delaware Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are also cosponsors.

"In consulting with numerous representatives from past administrations on this bill -- both Republicans and Democrats -- everyone agrees that in this post-September 11 security environment, presidential transitions should not be left to chance," said Sen. Kaufman. "The Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act will give future presidential campaigns the additional resources and incentive they need to begin transition planning long before Election Day, ending the "measuring the drapes' stigma too often attached to it."

"Candidates taking deliberate steps to ensure a smooth transition should not be criticized as arrogantly "measuring the White House drapes' before Election Day; such planning should be encouraged and supported." Sen. Voinovich said. "I am pleased the House has joined the Senate in passing the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act, which will establish forms of transition assistance to candidates earlier than ever before. We owe it to Americans to encourage effective presidential transition periods in order to protect our national security, support economic prosperity and promote government efficiency. I also want to thank Sen. Kaufman for taking the lead on this important issue. During his short time in the Senate, Sen. Kaufman has worked diligently to improve the operations of the federal government, and we couldn't have secured this bill's passage without his leadership."

"Early planning and collaboration between the incoming and outgoing Presidential administrations helps to keep our country safe and running smoothly," said Sen. Akaka. "I am pleased Congress approved the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act to help institutionalize the preparations necessary for smooth transitions in the future."

"I am pleased the House has now joined the Senate in passing this farsighted legislation that will assist presidential candidates in their planning and help keep voters secure. Presidential transitions and the months that follow can be perceived as times of potential vulnerability for the nation, as we saw when Al Qaeda tried to take advantage of a new presidency on September 11, 2001. Ultimately, the type of early, responsible planning encouraged by this bill will make our nation more secure," said Sen. Lieberman.

"I thank my colleagues for their swift passage of this important bill," said Sen. Carper. "The peaceful transfer of executive power from Administration to Administration is one of the hallmarks of our republic. This bill allows presidential candidates to conduct transition activities earlier and more thoroughly, ensuring that the government continues to operate smoothly and effectively for the American people. I look forward to seeing the President sign this bill into law."

Specifically, the bill would:

Make candidate transition planning an act of responsibility, not presumptuousness:
The Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act seeks to make the decision to undertake transition planning easier by providing resources and educating the campaigns, the press, and the public on the importance of early transition activities.

· The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will offer each candidate a set of services promptly upon nomination, including fully equipped office space, communication services, briefings, training, and initiation of security clearances for prospective personnel.

· Candidates eligible for services include major party candidates and others determined eligible based on the criteria similar to those used by the Commission on Presidential Debates for candidates participating in general election debates.

· GSA shall distribute to candidates a report on modern transitions, including a bibliography of resources, which shall be released to the public and posted online.

· Staff compensation, travel expenses and allowances shall continue to be paid for exclusively by separate funds of the campaigns prior to the election.

· Provision of services and information to eligible candidates is to be provided on an equal basis and without regard to political affiliation, and are to be used by candidates or staff only for transition purposes.

· Candidates will be expressly authorized to establish at any time a separate 501(c)(4) fund comprised of campaign monies and/or separately raised funds (with a $5,000 per person contribution limit) to cover any transition-related expenses or to supplement the services provided through GSA.

Encourage administration preparation for transfer of power:
Not every incumbent administration has made or can be expected to make transition planning the priority it was made by the Bush Administration. Nonetheless, bringing greater awareness to the public -- as well as to political and career agency personnel -- of the critical value of a well-prepared transfer of power can enhance the likelihood of effective transition planning.

· Authorization of appropriations expressly for use by the Administration to plan and coordinate activities by the departments and agencies to facilitate an efficient transfer of power, which may include, among other activities:

· Establishment and operation of a transition coordinating council comprised of such high-level administration officials, or their designees, as the Chief of Staff to the President, Cabinet Secretaries, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Administrator of General Services, Director of the Office of Management Personnel, Director of the Office of Government Ethics, and other senior officials.

· Establishment and operation of an agency transition directors' council, which would include career employees designated to lead transition efforts within Departments or agencies.

· Development of briefing materials on departments and agencies and the major issues facing an incoming administration.

· Development of computer software, publications, contingency plans, issue memoranda, memoranda of understanding, training (including crisis training), programs, and other items appropriate for improving the effectiveness, efficiency and safety of a presidential transition.

· The Administration shall provide reports to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform six months and three months before the election describing the activities undertaken by the Administration, departments, and agencies to prepare for the anticipated or potential transfer of power.


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