Transition officials “have encountered obstruction from political leadership at various agencies, most notably at the Department of Defense and the Office of Management and Budget,” Abraham said.
“Make no mistake, this lack of cooperation has real-world implications, most concerningly as it relates to our national security,” he added. “This intentionally generated opacity makes it harder for our government to protect the American people moving forward.”
A senior administration official, however, flatly denied Wednesday that the OMB had been stonewalling the transition team with materials. The official said the office has had 45 meetings with the transition staff and offered “everything they have requested.”
Abraham previously criticized the Pentagon’s leadership earlier this month after acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller claimed his own staff and Biden transition officials had “mutually agreed” to suspend a series of meetings until after the holidays.
At the time, Abraham said no such agreement had been reached. The tensions have continued to ramp up in recent days, resulting in Biden declaring on Monday that Pentagon officials were putting up “roadblocks” in the way of his transition.
On Wednesday, however, Abraham homed in on the ramifications of OMB’s alleged noncompliance with the transition team — arguing that the agency was handicapping Biden’s ability to mount an effective economic response to the coronavirus pandemic and its vast financial fallout.
“OMB leadership’s refusal to fully cooperate impairs our ability to identify opportunities to maximize the relief going out to Americans during the pandemic, and it leaves us in the dark as it relates to Covid-related expenditures and critical gaps,” Abraham said.
The administration official, however, retorted that the office had briefed the transition team on Operation Warp Speed — the Trump administration’s coronavirus vaccine development initiative.
Abraham’s remarks come more than a month after the General Services Administration acknowledged Biden as the apparent winner of the 2020 presidential election, formally allowing him to move forward with his transition despite Trump’s ongoing refusal to concede the White House race.
Transition spokesperson Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, also appeared in Wednesday’s news briefing, and announced that Biden — “like other incoming administrations have done before” — would issue a “regulatory freeze memo” set to take effect immediately after he is sworn in next month.
The directive “will halt or delay midnight regulations” ordered by the Trump administration “that will not have taken effect by Inauguration Day,” Psaki told reporters.
“The Biden administration will take swift and bold action across the federal government to roll back harmful Trump administration policies as quickly as possible on Jan. 20 and start tackling the crises the country is facing,” she said.