Our system is designed to withstand great shocks.

A peaceful transition from the Obama Administration to his successor, whether it was Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, has been underway for months.

There is prescribed order to any transition that has become even more streamlined since 9/11. Federal law requires the executive branch to create two transition panels - one for the White House and one for federal agencies - six months before Election Day and representatives from each campaign serve both panels. Federal law also requires the General Services Administration to provide office space and equipment to candidates within three days of becoming their party’s nominees.

Moreover, the political layer of the executive branch is by design, small. There are only about 4,000 positions available for political appointees compared to the more than 1.4 million jobs filled by career staff, many of whom have worked for numerous administrations, regardless of party affiliation. Rest assured that the federal bureaucracy knows full well how to slow-walk the political apparatus when necessary.

Then there is the Congress. Even if controlled by the same party of the sitting president, each body – the Senate and the House - has its own agenda and does not see itself as rubber stamp for the president. They have to be re-elected, too. 

Finally, when it comes to repealing regulations or laws – think Obamacare – it is not easy, and most certainly does not happen overnight. Changes to federal regulations face strict legal scrutiny and changes to laws require congressional action. The Republican majority in the Senate is not big enough to get around procedural votes without help from Democrats.

The Wall Street Journal earlier this year reported that “of the more than 4,500 proposed or final regulatory actions cleared by the Bush White House, Mr. Obama repealed just 74 in his first nine months in office, when rules are most often revisited, according to a 2009 presentation by a former official of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Of those, only 34 were final rules.”

President Obama’s meeting with President-Elect Trump today is a reminder that Washington will continue to move forward with a smooth transition in the days, weeks and months ahead.

dan scandling
Dan Scandling

Dan Scandling is a senior director of public affairs who helps lead a team that integrates strategic communication, issues management and government relations expertise to deliver policy outcomes for clients. Read More