A new sign that Democrats are hedging their bets against the return of former President Donald Trump is that it is expected that the House Democrats will pass legislation that would make it harder for the president to change procedures within the federal workforce.
It is unclear whether Trump will mount a successful comeback two years from now, but he has only hinted at the possibility of running again in 2024. The writing on the wall is a bit clearer for House Democrats, as polls consistently show Republicans are likely to take back control of the House during the midterms. While neither party can yet claim a majority in the Senate, Republicans are expected to win the House this November but on a slimmer margin than previously forecast, according to Fox News power rankings.
The meaning of this is that Democrats may have just a few months left to shape policy as they see fit before the midterm elections, and protecting federal workers from actions that a potentially re-elected Trump, or other Republican, would likely take, is one of their priorities.
Trump signed an executive order, just before he left office, setting up a new classification of federal workers known as Schedule F. Federal agencies were instructed by the order to place thousands of workers into this category, which would strip them of the due process rights afforded to most federal workers and make it easier for them to be fired.
It was a last-ditch effort for the Trump camp to “drain the swamp” of officials who resisted his policy prescriptions. But it was seen as a political attack by the Democrats, against the government’s merit-based civilian workforce system that has been in place for 150 years, and a return to the patronage or “spoils” system of managing the federal workforce, reported Fox News.
Trump’s order was rescinded by President Biden, but Trump said in March, in possible preparation for another run at the White House, he wanted to make “every executive-branch employee fireable by the president.”
Democrats will try to prevent that from happening, as lawmakers will start working on the Preventing a Patronage System Act. This means that without the consent of Congress, it would prevent any job in the federal service from being reclassified outside the regular merit system.
The goal is that before they implement a Schedule F plan, with a potential Trump return to the White House at the top of their minds, to require any future president to get permission from Congress. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., accused Trump in a July op-ed for the Washington Post, of planning to “replace vast swaths of government experts with his own army of tens of thousands of loyalists.”
Connolly wrote: “This is a direct threat to democracy and the rule of law. The only reason for Trump to do this is to make it easier to fire federal employees who dare to disagree with him.”
There is a big worry about the possibility of Trump’s return by Connolly and other Democrats, so the vote will be the second time the House has approved this language. Earlier this year, a similar restriction was placed into the annual defense policy. but Connolly says it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“Trump and his cronies have made clear that they want to dismantle the merit-based civil service. I am committed to stopping this attack on our democracy and thank House leadership for bringing this legislation to the floor. We must keep all options on the table,” Connolly said in a statement.