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Pressure increases on the agency in charge of proclaiming winner in US elections

Electoral workers count votes from briefcases with uncounted ballots for the election of local leaders in a tabulation center at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 11, 2020. Officials said over 180 briefcases were discovered full of uncounted ballots that were apparently stored in a vault in Puerto Rico and forgotten.  REUTERS / Ricardo Arduengo Electoral workers count votes from briefcases with uncounted ballots for the election of local leaders in a tabulation center at the Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico, November 11, 2020. Officials said over 180 briefcases were discovered full of uncounted ballots that were apparently stored in a vault in Puerto Rico and forgotten. REUTERS / Ricardo Arduengo

By Andrea Shalal and Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON, Nov 18 (.) – A little-known agency that keeps the U.S. federal bureaucracy running is the biggest impediment to new efforts to fight the coronavirus, President-elect Joe Biden said on Wednesday.

“There is a lot of things that we just don’t have available,” including real-time data on personal protective equipment and the COVID-19 vaccine delivery plan, the Democrat said.

Emily Murphy, Head of the General Services Administration (GSA), must “determine” the winner of the November 3 presidential election. That is the condition to release funds and resources to the winner, but so far it has not done so.

Despite Biden’s clear margin of victory, Trump has refused to budge, even though his legal challenges are failing.

Murphy has sole authority to release salaries, office space, official email addresses, and intelligence briefings to an incoming administration, which formally takes effect on January 20.

Meanwhile, the third wave of the virus has reached the US, where the pandemic has already killed 250,000 people.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday that he speaks daily with the White House coronavirus experts and has a separate channel of communication with Biden’s advisory council on the same topic.

“Those two sides don’t talk to each other. And that’s a big problem,” Murphy, a Democrat, told CNN. “It’s a big problem that could put both the distribution of the vaccine and, more broadly, people’s lives at risk.”

Murphy of the GSA, for his part, is coming under pressure from Democrats, a growing number of Republicans, election commissioners and the American Medical Association to recognize Biden as the winner.

“(Murphy) will announce the result when the winner is clear, as stated in the Constitution,” said a GSA spokeswoman.

Late Wednesday, leaders of the National Manufacturers Association, including Dow Chemical CEO Jim Fitterling, asked Murphy to sign the necessary documents “to ensure that manufacturers can continue to work smoothly with the federal government.” in challenges such as vaccine distribution.

“There is no time to lose and no margin for error,” they wrote in a joint letter. “We know what is at stake: The lives and livelihoods of Americans.”

Trump claims, without providing evidence, that the elections were marred by widespread fraud and has launched a whole battery of lawsuits that the judges have mostly dismissed.

(Information by Andrea Shalal; additional information David Shepardson and Jason Lange; edited by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney; translation by Jorge Martínez)