As President Donald Trump’s tenure in the oval office winds down, his administration is apparently looking to leave a lasting effect on federal civil service employment. The administration is seeking to remove legal protections for 88 percent of the federal workforce and ultimately make it much easier for career employees to be fired, several news outlets reported this week. At least one congressional Democrat said the move appears calculated to undermine the incoming Biden administration.
The effort to destabilize tens of thousands of federal jobs stems from an executive order signed by the president late last month. The Office of Management and Budget is reportedly moving swiftly to ensure that it’s implemented before Trump leaves office on Jan. 20.
Under the order, political appointees in the White House sent every federal agency a list of positions that should be reclassified as “Schedule F” roles, meaning the employees could be terminated for a number of reasons including poor performance or failing to carry out the administration’s stated priorities. The deadline for the reclassification is Jan. 19, one day prior to inauguration.
Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) on Friday said that Trump put the order in motion—believing he would win a second term—in order to oust Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading virologist and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, over his refusal to tow the administration’s line regarding the resurgent coronavirus pandemic. However, as it’s become increasingly clear that President-elect Joe Biden will take office in January, Beyer said Trump’s plan is likely geared towards sabotaging the new administration by embedding political loyalists into previously protected positions.
“But once it became clear Trump lost the election, a new goal came into view: sabotaging President-elect Biden. Sometime in the last week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) produced a memo which reclassified **88%** of its workers as Schedule F,” Beyer wrote. “Trump now believes he can fire nearly everyone at OMB at will. More agencies are likely to follow OMB in reclassifying portions of their workforces as Schedule F soon. Trump likely hopes to replace swathes of the career federal workforce with loyalists.”
Ronald Sanders, one of the administration’s top civil service advisors, resigned in protest last month over the directive, saying it was “nothing more than a smoke screen for what is clearly an attempt to require the political loyalty of those who advise the President, or failing that, to enable their removal with little if any due process.”
“I simply cannot be part of an Administration that seeks . . . to replace apolitical expertise with political obeisance. Career Federal employees are legally and duty-bound to be nonpartisan; they take an oath to preserve and protect our Constitution and the rule of law . . . not to be loyal to a particular President or Administration,” Sanders wrote in his letter of resignation.
House Democrats are attempting to block the order from taking effect, with 24 committee chairs on Wednesday signing onto a letter demanding a “full accounting of political appointees who have already been hired into career positions or are being considered for such conversions.”
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]