Democrats running for president want presidential transitions to share security clearance applicant lists

Elizabeth Warren is among the headliners on the new legislation

Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., are seen during testimony by Judge Brett Kavanaugh during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most of the Senate Democrats running for president are headlining an effort to force presidential transitions to turn over lists of security clearance applicants to Congress.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is headlining the effort, and co-sponsors include potential or confirmed 2020 hopefuls like Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

Warren, D-Mass., joined with other Democrats including House Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland and Sen. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware in unveiling the bill on Wednesday.

Among other things, the bill would require presidents-elect to turn over lists of security clearance applicants during the post-election transition period to the House oversight panel, and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It would also require providing the list of people who actually get clearances.

Much of the bill focuses on making sure people elected president address ethics conflicts before noon on January 20.

“Regardless of their political party, presidential candidates and their transition teams should disclose how they will address their own conflicts of interest before the election and develop an ethics plan that the American people are able to see and evaluate,” Carper said in a statement. “Along with my colleagues in the House and Senate, I will keep pushing to provide more accountability and transparency in presidential transitions by helping new administrations address potential conflicts of interest, improve the vetting process for nominees and preserve the integrity of our executive branch.”

The Democratic lawmakers cite a Government Accountability Office study showing that the Trump presidential transition did not really have an enforceable ethics code to deal with conflicts of interest among transition team members.

“It’s too easy for the wealthy and well-connected to rig the system to their own benefit during presidential transitions,” Warren said in a statement. “The Transition Team Ethics Improvement Act puts the government’s focus during transitions where it belongs: on the needs of the American people.”

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