I don’t need to tell you that President Trump has been disastrous for the federal workforce. From his unnecessary and harmful government shutdown to his illegal proposal to merge the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), this president and his administration have waged war on the dedicated public servants who keep our government up and running.
While the Trump era is nearly over, he’s still attempting to do some damage on his way out of the White House door. And we have a lot of work to do to rebuild the civil service protections he tried to eliminate.
On October 21, President Trump issued an Executive Order “on Creating Schedule F in the Excepted Service.” This intentionally bland and misleading title masks the order’s much more sinister intent: to remove important civil service protections and make it easier to replace nonpolitical, career federal employees with partisan loyalists. In short, this executive order is a blatant attempt to gut the expertise and merit system principles that are the foundation of our federal workforce.
We don’t have to imagine how devastating this could be. Already, agencies are compiling lists of employees deemed suitable for reclassification to this new, unprotected “Schedule F” designation. OMB, for example, reported that an astonishing 88% of its entire workforce could be up for reclassification — and, therefore, potential removal from federal service.
This is a shameful and vindictive action from a president who was just fired by the American people, and it cannot stand. That’s why, a week after President Trump issued his Executive Order, I introduced legislation as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations to reverse it.
I, along with Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), introduced the Saving the Civil Service Act, which would prohibit the use of funds from being used to implement Trump’s order. It would also allow any position or appointment that was converted pursuant to the EO be converted back to the competitive service, and provides anyone converted to a Schedule F and subsequently fired to be reinstated with backpay.
In addition, last week, Majority Leader Hoyer and I led 11 of our colleagues in writing to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to urge the inclusion of the Saving the Civil Service Act in the forthcoming government funding bill that the House is expected to consider this month. In our letter, we wrote:
“We write with great urgency to request that the forthcoming continuing resolution or omnibus spending bill include language that reverses the implementation of this executive order and requires the immediate return of any federal employee reclassified pursuant to it. The executive order contradicts 137 years of tradition and practice based on merit systems principles. It would expedite the hiring of political appointees into jobs without regard to merit and place them in roles best served by career civil servants.
“This executive order, which the Trump Administration is rushing to implement without adequate analysis just weeks before the President leaves office, could precipitate an exodus from the federal government, leaving agencies without deep institutional knowledge, expertise, experience, and the ability to develop and implement long-term policy strategies”
As we count down the days to the inauguration of President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris, please know that I will always continue to stand up and fight to for our country’s single greatest asset: the patriots who make up the federal workforce.
Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other, and remember that my office is here to help. Be sure to visit the COVID-19 page on my website for more information and resources. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you need assistance, please don't hesitate to call us at (703) 256-3071.
Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress