1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Biden's transition — What happens next?

November 24, 2020

There is much for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to do before they get to work in the White House. That includes more voting, more policy picks, and even what to do on Inauguration Day.

US President-elect Joe Biden
Image: Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo/picture alliance

The US General Services Administration said Monday that former US Vice President Joe Biden was the "apparent winner" in the election that was held three weeks ago — freeing up $6.3 million (€5.3 million) in funds for the transition team, access to intelligence briefings, as well as 175,000 square feet (16,200 square meters) of office space in which to work.

With 57 days until Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated as the 46th president, DW breaks down the next steps for the president-elect.

What does the transition period entail?

The move means that Biden's team will now have federal funds and an official office to conduct his transition over the next two months. It also allows for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to receive regular national security briefings that Trump also gets.

The transition period is a crucial time for the incoming administration to get brought up to speed and to coordinate with federal agencies to ensure a smooth handover. Biden will formally announce his Cabinet picks and continue to vet candidates for the rest of his team. Many of the key positions in his administration, including the Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary positions, will require approval from the Senate.

What was the reaction to the announcement?

After Biden got the formal go-ahead to push forward with his transition, stocks and cryptocurrencies rose. Bitcoin, the world's most popular cryptocurrency, rose 3% and hit $19,000 on Tuesday, near its all-time high.

European STOXX 600 index increased 0.6%. Futures for the S&P 500 rose 0.8% in European trading hours. Japan's Nikkei jumped 2.5% to its highest level since May 1991.

Several Republicans have recently accepted Biden's victory, including senior Trump aides. Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone had encouraged the transition to begin.

Read more: America is back? — Joe Biden's 5 biggest economic challenges

What about the Electoral College?

The Electoral College will vote for the president on December 14. Congress will officially count the votes on January 6, 2021. A candidate must receive at least 270 electoral college votes in order to become president. Biden is projected to receive 306.

Electors are expected to vote according to the winner of the popular vote in their state. However, there were some who refused to vote for neither the Democratic or Republican candidates in 2016. The so-called "faithless electors" could face fines for doing so, although they have historically never determined a US election outcome.

What will happen to Trump?

Tradition dictates for Trump and the first lady to receive Biden and his wife at the White House before Biden takes the oath of office. Trump will become a private citizen as soon as Biden is sworn in.

Trump has yet to formally concede the election, pressing forward with several lawsuits in battleground states that he lost, including Michigan and Pennsylvania. Following the GSA's decision to greenlight Biden's transition, Trump tweeted that he encouraged the "initial protocols" for the transition to begin, but added: "our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!"

What happens on Inauguration Day?

Biden and Harris are set to be sworn in at noon on January 20, per the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution. Elected presidents have stood on the steps of the Capitol building to take the oath of office in front of large crowds on the Washington Mall. The new president then delivers his first speech, takes part in a luncheon at the US Capitol with guests, and participates in a parade along the streets of Washington DC, before joining inauguration balls across the city.

Inauguration preparations were already underway in October, but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, those traditions might not take place.

Paige Waltz, a spokesperson for the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, told the Associated Press in October that the committee was "committed to traditional, inclusive, and safe ceremonies and will continue to monitor the situation and provide information as it comes available."

kbd/rs (AP, Reuters, AFP)