is leaning on a mix of former Obama administration officials, a former primary rival and some of the women he considered to be his running mate to help run his White House transition team.
As early voting begins in some states and with 59 days remaining until Election Day, Biden by law must begin thinking ahead to a potential transfer of power. This is a potentially fraught step this year if the former vice president wins, given the prospects of a prolonged ballot count in several states, as well as President Trump’s unwillingness so far to say that he would accept election results that result in him losing.
As the transition begins, Biden’s team signed a memorandum of understanding in recent days with the General Services Administration, the federal agency responsible for providing office space and other logistical support for a candidate’s White House transition team.
In a statement, Biden transition co-chairman Ted Kaufman said his team is “preparing for this transition amid the backdrop of a global health and struggling economy. This is a transition like no other, and the team being assembled will help Joe Biden meet the urgent challenges facing our country on day one.”
Kaufman has been advising Biden since he joined the Senate in the 1970s and at one time served as his chief of staff. He was appointed in 2009 to complete Biden’s Senate term when he became Vice President. In the last year, he’s had little direct involvement in Biden’s campaign and was tapped early on to begin thinking about a potential transition.
That’s in part because Kaufman is uniquely aware of the mechanics of presidential transitions. While in the Senate, he was a lead author and sponsor of bipartisan legislation that codified into law a series of steps designed to ensure a smoother transition from one president to the next after years of concerns in a post-9/11 world that the federal government could be especially vulnerable during a transfer of power. Among other things, a major party’s presidential nominee is now assured federal office space in Washington for a transition team to begin reviewing potential applicants and priorities for the next administration.
Other co-chairs of the transition team are Biden senior adviser Anita Dunn; Congressman Cedric Richmond, who’s also a national co-chairman of Biden’s campaign; Jeff Zients, a former White House economic adviser and Office of Management and Budget official during the Obama administration who focused on government management concerns; and New Mexico Governor Michelle Luján Grisham.
Luján Grisham was among those Biden considered to be his running mate.
Two other VP contenders, former White House national security adviser Susan Rice and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates, are now also members of the Biden transition advisory board.
, a former Biden primary rival, is also on the 15-person advisory board, along with , the former surgeon general who’s been been advising Biden on the response to the coronavirus pandemic, and Teresa Romero, president of the United Farm Workers union.
Cecilia Muñoz, who ran former president Barack Obama’s White House domestic policy council, is also joining the transition office as a staff member.
The expansion of the transition team was first reported by CNN.