United States presidential transition
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A presidential transition or presidential interregnum refers to the period of time between the end of a presidential election and the inauguration of a new President of a country. During this time the incoming President usually designates new government personnel, including selecting new Cabinet positions and government department or agency heads.
In the United States, during a presidential transition, the outgoing "lame duck" President has lost many of the intangible benefits of a Presidency (e.g., being perceived as the default leader on issues of national importance) but the incoming President-elect is not yet legally empowered to affect policy. This ambiguity in the roles of the President-elect and outgoing President creates the potential for a leadership vacuum, which may be most acutely felt during wartime or times of economic crisis.
|This article may contain inappropriate or misinterpreted citations that do not verify the text. (February 2010)|
Perhaps the most disastrous transition in US history was the 1860-1861 transition from the administration of James Buchanan to that of Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan held the opinion that states did not have the right to secede, but that it was also illegal for the Federal government to go to war to stop them. Between November 6, 1860 and March 4, 1861, seven states seceded and conflict between secessionist and federal forces began, leading to the American Civil War between the Northern and Southern states.
The Presidential transition period at the end of the administration of Herbert Hoover, prior to the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt (November 8, 1932 — March 4, 1933) was a notably difficult transition period. After the election, Roosevelt refused Hoover's requests for a meeting to come up with a joint program to stop the downward spiral and calm investors claiming it would tie his hands, and as this "guaranteed that Roosevelt took the oath of office amid such an atmosphere of crisis that Hoover had become the most hated man in America. During this period of essentially leaderless government, the U.S. economy ground to a halt as thousands of banks failed. The relationship between Hoover and Roosevelt was one of the most strained between Presidents ever. While Hoover had little good to say about his successor, there was little he could do. FDR, however, supposedly could and did engage in various petty official acts aimed at his predecessor, ranging from dropping him from the White House birthday greetings message list to having Hoover's name struck from the Hoover Dam along the Colorado River border, which would officially be known only as Boulder Dam for many years to come.
The transition between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush was marred by accusations of "damage, theft, vandalism and pranks". The General Accounting Office (GAO) estimated the cost of those pranks at $13,000 to $14,000. However, they note that similar pranks were reported in prior transitions, including the one from Bush's father to Clinton in 1993. Press secretary Ari Fleischer followed up the GAO report with a White House-produced list of alleged vandalism including removal of the W key from keyboards. The Clintons were also accused of keeping for themselves gifts meant for the White House. The Clintons denied the accusations, but agreed to pay more than $85,000 for gifts given to the first family "to eliminate even the slightest question" of impropriety.
The transition between Bush and Barack Obama was considered seamless, with Bush granting Obama's request to ask Congress to release $350 billion of bank bailout funds. At the start of his inaugural speech, Obama praised Bush "for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and co-operation he has shown throughout this transition". At exactly 12:01 pm on January 20, 2009, the White House website removed most material relating to the Bush White House, including archives of speeches, press briefings, announcements, videos and other news. This was described by some as a "new inaugural tradition spawned by the Internet-age".
In the United States, the presidential transition extends from the day of the US presidential election (which occurs in November), until the 20th day of January as specified in the Twentieth Amendment. The presidential transition is regulated by The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 (P.L. 88-277), amended by The Presidential Transitions Effectiveness Act of 1998 (P.L. 100-398)  and The Presidential Transition Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-293). The Act as amended directs the Administrator of General Services to provide facilities, funding of approximately five million dollars, access to government services, and support for a transition team, and to provide training and orientation of new government personnel and other procedures to ensure an orderly transition.
The President-elect will also usually appoint a 'presidential transition team' (sometimes even before the presidential election) to prepare for a smooth transfer of power following the presidential inauguration.
List of US presidential transitions
|Outgoing President||Transition begins
|George W. Bush||November 4, 2008||January 20, 2009||Barack Obama|
|Bill Clinton||November 7, 2000
(December 12, 2000)
|January 20, 2001||George W. Bush|
|George H. W. Bush||November 3, 1992||January 20, 1993||Bill Clinton|
|Ronald Reagan||November 8, 1988||January 20, 1989||George H. W. Bush|
|Jimmy Carter||November 4, 1980||January 20, 1981||Ronald Reagan|
|Gerald Ford||November 2, 1976||January 20, 1977||Jimmy Carter|
|Lyndon B. Johnson||November 5, 1968||January 20, 1969||Richard Nixon|
|Dwight Eisenhower||November 8, 1960||January 20, 1961||John F. Kennedy|
|Harry Truman||November 4, 1952||January 20, 1953||Dwight Eisenhower|
|Herbert Hoover||November 8, 1932||March 4, 1933||Franklin Roosevelt|
|Calvin Coolidge||November 6, 1928||March 4, 1929||Herbert Hoover|
|Woodrow Wilson||November 2, 1920||March 4, 1921||Warren Harding|
|William Taft||November 5, 1912||March 4, 1913||Woodrow Wilson|
|Theodore Roosevelt||November 3, 1908||March 4, 1909||William Taft|
|Grover Cleveland||November 3, 1896||March 4, 1897||William McKinley|
|Benjamin Harrison||November 8, 1892||March 4, 1893||Grover Cleveland|
|Grover Cleveland||November 6, 1888||March 4, 1889||Benjamin Harrison|
|Chester Arthur||November 4, 1884||March 4, 1885||Grover Cleveland|
|Rutherford Hayes||November 2, 1880||March 4, 1881||James Garfield|
|Ulysses Grant||November 7, 1876
(March 2, 1877)
|March 4, 1877||Rutherford Hayes|
|Andrew Johnson||November 3, 1868||March 4, 1869||Ulysses Grant|
|James Buchanan||November 6, 1860||March 4, 1861||Abraham Lincoln|
|Franklin Pierce||November 4, 1856||March 4, 1857||James Buchanan|
|Millard Fillmore||November 2, 1852||March 4, 1853||Franklin Pierce|
|James Polk||November 7, 1848||March 4, 1849||Zachary Taylor|
|John Tyler||December 4, 1844||March 4, 1845||James Polk|
|Martin Van Buren||December 2, 1840||March 4, 1841||William Harrison|
|Andrew Jackson||December 7, 1836||March 4, 1837||Martin Van Buren|
|John Quincy Adams||December 3, 1828||March 4, 1829||Andrew Jackson|
|James Monroe||February 9, 1825||March 4, 1825||John Quincy Adams|
|James Madison||1816||March 4, 1817||James Monroe|
|Thomas Jefferson||1808||March 4, 1809||James Madison|
|John Adams||February 17, 1801||March 4, 1801||Thomas Jefferson|
|George Washington||1796||March 4, 1797||John Adams|
- Midnight regulations - rules created by an outgoing administration before it leaves office
- Gibbs, Nancy (November 10, 2008). "When New President Meets Old, It's Not Always Pretty". TIME.
- Rudney, Robert. "Lessons Learned from the 1932-1933 Presidential Transition". www.commondreams.org. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
- Pear, Robert (June 12, 2002). "White House Vandalized In Transition, G.A.O. Finds". The New York Times.
- Evans, Mike (June 3, 2001). "Bush aide details alleged Clinton staff vandalism". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on June 10, 2001.
- "Gifts Were Not Meant for Clintons, Some Donors Say". The Washington Post. February 5, 2001. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- "Tripp: I was told not to record White House gifts". CNN. February 9, 2001. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- "Topic Galleries". Courant.com. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
- "Presidential Transition Act of 1963". www.gsa.gov. Retrieved 2008-11-28.[dead link]
- "The Presidential Transitions Effectiveness Act of 1998". www.gsa.gov. Retrieved 2008-11-28.[dead link]
- "Presidential Transition Act of 2000". www.gsa.gov. Retrieved 2008-11-28.[dead link]
- "S. 2705". www.senate.gov. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- Date recount was halted by Supreme Court order.
- Date the contested election was certified by Congress
- Hayes took his inauguration oath privately on March 3 and publicly on March 5.
- Taylor was sworn in on March 5.
- Date Adams was elected by the House of Representatives
- Date Jefferson was elected by the House of Representatives