House Passes Bill to Insulate Federal Workers, Addressing a Trump Threat
By Catie Edmonson
The House passed legislation on Thursday aimed at curbing a president’s authority to hire and fire tens of thousands of federal workers, moving to bolster the job security of civil servants targeted by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies as disloyal “deep state” operatives.
The 225-to-204 vote, which was mostly along party lines with almost all Republicans opposed, was a response by the Democratic-led House to Mr. Trump’s attacks on federal workers, which have continued since he left office.
Mr. Trump signed an executive order in 2020 allowing federal agencies to reclassify workers in a way that would strip them of the job protections that cover most federal employees and effectively turn their positions into political patronage posts. Mr. Biden rescinded Mr. Trump’s order in 2021 when he took office, in a move hailed by federal union leaders who had decried Mr. Trump’s policy as an unprecedented undermining of the civil service.
The bipartisan legislation, led by Representatives Gerald E. Connolly, Democrat of Virginia, and Brian Fitzpatrick, Republican of Pennsylvania, would prevent a president from placing federal employees under a new classification — what the Trump administration had termed “Schedule F” — without the approval of Congress. All but six Republicans opposed it.
“Blind loyalty and ideological purity tests must never determine who we trust with securing our nation’s orders, fortifying federal IT systems, caring for seniors and veterans,” Mr. Connolly said. “Do we really think a government of political hacks and sycophants is in the best interest of the American people?”
Democrats in the Senate have introduced a parallel bill, but the measure’s most straightforward path into law may be the annual defense policy measure. The House passed its version of the legislation in July, containing Mr. Connolly’s civil service measure; the Senate has yet to pass its bill.