13 members of the House of Representatives believe the upcoming appropriations bill may be the easiest way to stop the Trump Administration from executing on its executive order to make it easier to fire federal employees. The Office of Management and Budget has already announced plans to convert 88% of its workforce to the new Schedule F.
Representative Don Beyer, Democrat from Virginia’s 8th District, joined 12 of his colleagues on a letter to appropriations committee chairs and ranking members.
The letter requests that the forthcoming continuing resolution or omnibus spending bill include language for the reversal of the implementation of the executive order and requires the immediate return of any federal employee reclassified pursuant to it.
The Pendleton Act, passed over 140 years ago, requires civil servants to be largely politically independent, said Beyer. Presidents have the opportunity to appoint a small percentage of the workforce – less than 5% – as Schedule C appointments. Most federal employees, however, should not be swinging left or right depending on who the president is, Beyer explained.
“They’ve taken 88% of the OMB and made them basically at-will employees. They can all be fired between now and January 20th,” said Beyer.
Beyer said he is slightly worried about “burrowing in,” where a political appointee of a president finds a way to convert himself or herself into a career civil service appointee. Beyer said while this is not always bad, “with the Schedule F, if you suddenly fire 85% of the employees and replace them with Schedule F employees that don’t have to go through the vetting process, you could transform a whole government overnight in ways that would not be good for the American public.”
Beyer is hopeful that the proposed language will make it into the omnibus bill the House and Senate will likely vote on soon. He said he has not found any Republicans in Congress who support the executive order. “My Republican friends have to be thinking about four years from now, eight years from now, when they perhaps elect a Republican president again, do they really want us stuffing all these agencies with our Democratic operatives? No,” said Beyer.