Biden’s response to the transition starting hints at how worried he is about the damage Trump has done to the federal government

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Joe Biden, then the Vice President, looks out from the Oval Office of the White House in September 2014. Pool/Getty Images

  • President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team welcomed moves from the Trump administration to begin a presidential transition.
  • But at the same time, the team signaled that it expects a big part of its job to be damage mitigation.
  • A statement warned that an urgent task is to uncover the extent of “the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”
  • It did not mention specifics. But many federal agencies have been reshaped and downsized since 2016, while many significant roles have never been filled by Senate-confirmed staff.
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President-elect Joe Biden’s response to the formal announcement that the presidential transition process will begin hinted at how worried his team is about the state they will find the federal government in. 

It came in his transition team’s reaction to the news that the federal government had allowed the transition process to begin, a move grudgingly recommended by President Donald Trump.

In a statement on Monday from transition director Yohannes Abraham, Biden’s transition team said the transition will bring “the resources and support necessary to carry out a smooth and peaceful transfer of power.”

But it also had a darker side.

Abraham continued (emphasis ours): “In the days ahead, transition officials will begin meeting with federal officials to discuss the pandemic response, have a full accounting of our national security interests, and gain complete understanding of the Trump administration’s efforts to hollow out government agencies.”

© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Joe Biden. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

While the statement did not list any specific agencies or changes, Trump’s presidency has seen many agencies cut back and reshaped from their earlier forms.

The State Department, Department of Education, and Department of Labor have been understaffed or attacked by Trump.

And Trump changed the usual practice of putting diplomats and experienced officials in senior roles.

He also left many senior roles filled by officials serving in an “acting” capacity, rather than people who had undergone the usual process of approval by the US Senate.

Trump has altered the roles of agencies like the Environment Protection Agency, which has reversed many environmental protection rules.

Morale among federal workers also fell under Trump, and some government roles, like national security and homeland security roles, became newly partisan under his presidency, causing experts and government watchdogs to raise concerns.

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