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US Presidential Candidates Prepare to Take Office

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) in Los Angeles, California on May 5, 2016 and in Eugene, Oregon, U.S. on May 6, 2016 respectively.
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (L) and Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) in Los Angeles, California on May 5, 2016 and in Eugene, Oregon, U.S. on May 6, 2016 respectively.
US Presidential Candidates Prepare to Take Office
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Aides for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are hard at work in the same building in Washington, D.C.

The election is not until November. But each team is preparing for their candidate to become president in January.

The news website reported that the aides moved into a building near the White House in early August. Congress has approved a budget of more than $13 million for the transition planning.

President Barack Obama will leave office and the new president will take office on January 20th, 2017. That is less than three months after the election on November 8th, 2016.

Recently, top transition officials from both campaigns met with Obama’s top aides.

Obama’s spokesman told reporters that the administration will be helpful to both candidates as they take part in transition planning.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said everyone who took part in the meeting “understands the serious responsibility that they have to ensure a smooth and effective transition.”

Experts say a strong and well-organized transition effort can help the new president be successful early in the first term. The transition team is to work to create plans to govern. It also is expected to help the new president honor campaign promises.

Hillary Clinton has already taken part in two presidential transitions.

In 1992, her husband Bill Clinton was elected president. She experienced the transition from the administration of President George H.W. Bush, the 41st president. She dealt with the transition from the other side as well, when her husband left office and George W. Bush became president.

The transition efforts are technically separate from the campaigns of the nominees. However, most of the transition officials for Trump and Clinton are, or were, top aides to the candidates.

The “Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010” gives money and offices to the major party nominees to help prepare them to govern the nation.

The law was strengthened by the “Presidential Transitions Improvements Act of 2015.” It requires the outgoing president to begin planning the change of power at least six months ahead.

Until recently, new presidents did not begin officially preparing for office until after the election in November. It leaves little time to do a lot. Thousands of workers are needed to run the White House. The president must also choose senior officials to lead agencies throughout the government.

The transition is a costly effort. Time magazine reported that in 2012, between 300 and 500 people worked on Republican Mitt Romney’s pre-election transition effort. It cost almost $9 million.

Romney did not win the election. Because President Obama was already in office, he did not take part in transition planning.

The Partnership for Public Service is a non-profit organization that works to improve the effectiveness of the federal government. It has created The Center for Presidential Transition. The center helps to make the next president ready to govern on the first day in office. Researchers at the center have interviewed former leaders of presidential transitions, read academic reports and collected documents from previous transitions.

Max Stier is one of the leaders of the center. He told ABC News that “winning and not being ready to govern is a big problem.” He notes that the new president and aides will be leading an organization with four million employees and an almost $4 trillion budget.

Stier told an interviewer that the transition “is a moment of both incredible power and vulnerability. It is powerful in the sense that it’s a representation of our democratic practice. But the transition is also a time in which we present to the world an opportunity for mischief.”

The center says transitions can be too hurried, resulting in a new administration being unprepared to deal with an emergency. The center provides plans to help the candidates as they create a protected computer network, get needed security clearances and organize offices, among other duties.

Stier said the new president must name 4,000 new leaders of government agencies. He says about 25 percent of them require Senate approval.

This is the first presidential transition in which aides for both candidates are working in the same office building.

The team whose candidate wins the election will quickly speed their plans to take control of the federal government. The team whose candidate loses, however, must leave the offices provided by the federal government within a few days.

I'm Caty Weaver.

And I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

Christopher Jones-Cruise reported this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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Words in This Story

transition – n. a change from one state or condition to another

interview – v. to question or talk with (someone) in order to get information or learn about that person

academic – adj. of or relating to schools and education

vulnerable – adj. open to attack, harm or damage

opportunity – n. chance; an amount of time or a situation in which something can be done

mischief – n. a playful desire to cause trouble; behavior or activity that is annoying but that is not meant to cause serious harm or damage