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BRENDA BLAGG: Biden their time

Congressional lawmakers slow recognizing president-elect by Brenda Blagg | November 18, 2020 at 1:00 a.m.

Arkansas' all-Republican congressional delegation can still surprise.

At least, some of its members can.

The delegation -- U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman -- apparently still can't call former Vice President Joe Biden "president-elect," so strong is their continuing allegiance to President Donald Trump.

But several have joined a slowly growing chorus of lawmakers, including a significant number of Republicans, calling for Biden to be read in on national security briefings.

It's about time the nation's legislative leaders put national security ahead of their loyalty to President Trump, who is, despite his protestations, on his way out of the White House.

American voters have chosen Joe Biden and, despite whatever roadblocks Trump sets in his way, Biden will be president on Jan. 20.

For the record, the types of information being withheld from this president-elect is not unfamiliar to Biden, who received such classified briefings as the Democratic nominee for president.

The Trump administration in its refusal to cooperate with the peaceful transition of power is endangering this nation. So are those Republicans who blindly follow Trump's lead, refusing to accept the outcome of the presidential election.

It is in that light that Boozman, Arkansas' senior U.S. senator, 1st District Rep. Crawford and 2nd District Rep. Hill deserve a little credit for saying this week that Biden should be getting intelligence briefings so he's up to speed on threats to the nation.

The report citing their comments said the rest of the delegation -- Cotton, 4th District Rep. Westerman and 3rd District Rep. Womack -- either did not respond to requests for comment or could not be reached.

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The Arkansas Republican who most deserves a shout-out for speaking out on the issue is Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Hutchinson is a former undersecretary in George W. Bush's Homeland Security Department.

The governor spoke out last week, as he reflected on concern expressed by the 9/11 Commission Report regarding the limited transition time after the 2000 presidential election that was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The transition to the Bush administration was delayed, even as terrorists were planning the deadly strikes at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

Hutchinson did give a nod to Trump's "continued legitimate legal challenges" but he said preparations for a Biden presidency should still move forward.

Hutchinson has even said flat out that it is likely Biden will be president and should be allowed to prepare for that likelihood.

"Bush didn't have adequate time to get his national security team and all the people in place," Hutchinson recalled. "That just alerts you to the challenge that we face."

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For his part, Biden has repeatedly noted that the nation only has one president at a time. He says he'll be ready when it is his turn.

That doesn't mean he wouldn't like for his people to have access to the agencies and information, whether related to national security or the pandemic gripping the nation.

Meanwhile, Trump continues to build a legacy no president should want.

His refusal to accept the reality of the election, the roadblocks he's erected to a peaceful transition of power, and the 11th-hour dismissals and appointments he has made in the Pentagon and elsewhere just add to his record of disservice to this nation.

Brenda Blagg is a freelance columnist and longtime journalist in Northwest Arkansas. Email her at [email protected]

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