Biden Plans to Fortify Federal Workforce, Ward Off Trump Influence

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The Biden administration has proposed a new rule to protect the civil service from potential future political interference, particularly in the event of a return to power by Donald Trump. The rule would make it more difficult to reinstate an executive order issued by Trump which would have enabled him to fire thousands of federal workers and replace them with loyalists. The proposed regulation would ensure that even if certain positions were reclassified, employees would retain their job protections such as the right to appeal any firing or reassignment.

President Biden Aims to “Trump-Proof” Civil Service

President Biden intends to secure the civil service against potential future partisan influence. Despite his revocation of Trump’s executive order, which threatened the job security of many federal employees, Democrats have not yet legislated to enforce these protections.

To preempt any potential revival of this order in the event of a Trump or similar Republican victory in the 2024 elections, the White House’s Office of Personnel Management has proposed a rule that would strengthen the civil service system.

However, Trump’s supporters have dismissed the significance of this proposed rule, confident that they could simply reverse it using the same rule-making process.

The new rule addresses Trump’s late-presidency executive order, known as Schedule F, which could have transformed career federal employees into political appointees. The Trump administration justified this move by claiming that federal workers were sabotaging their agenda.

Critics dubbed the move a return to corrupt 19th-century practices, where federal jobs were partisan spoils instead of merit-based. The Biden administration’s proposed rule aims to uphold the existing job protections and limit exceptions to non-career political appointees.

The proposed rule highlights the importance of preserving the institutional memory, expertise, and technical knowledge of career civil servants. The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposal, with the Biden administration aiming to complete it by early 2024.

Though vocal supporters of Schedule F insist that it’s an effective measure against poor performers, others view it as a threat to the integrity of the civil service system. Democrats initially sought to prevent its return through legislation but faced opposition from Senate Republicans. Instead, they hope that the proposed rule will make any future reinstatement of Schedule F more legally vulnerable.

Biden’s Office of Management and Budget official, Jason Miller, emphasizes the lingering impact of Schedule F on federal agencies. Other Republicans, including potential Trump successors, also voice their intention to dismantle the administrative state further.

Democrats hope that the resistance to Trump’s Schedule F order can be translated into constructive, legislative action. Representative Gerald E. Connolly urges the Biden administration to prioritize this issue to prevent the politicization of the civil service.

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