The House of Representatives on Sept. 15 voted 225-204 to prevent future presidents from unilaterally making federal workers at-will employees by taking away their civil service protections like President Trump tried to do. Six Republicans joined all Democrats in passing the bill.
Before the vote, AFGE sent a letter to members of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to support H.R. 302, the Preventing a Patronage System Act.
“AFGE strongly supports H.R. 302, the Preventing Patronage System Act and opposes all efforts to subvert the people's government and return America to a corrupt, ineffective spoils system,” said AFGE President Everett Kelley. “We applaud Congress for taking decisive action to prevent any future president from firing thousands of dedicated public servants and replacing them with unqualified cronies answerable only to a handful of politicians instead of to the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
Why we need this law
The government’s personnel are hired based on merit, but during the last administration, Trump issued a now-rescinded executive order creating a new civil service Schedule F, which would have made tens of thousands of federal positions at will, meaning they could be fired for any reason, including a political one. This would have brought back the patronage system in which employees were hired based on political connections and could be fired as political retaliation.
“Current personnel rules, which ensure that the government’s personnel are hired based on merit rather than political or other considerations, must be maintained,” AFGE said in the letter. “AFGE strongly opposes any attempt to waive civil service appointment and removal laws and to create any new excepted service schedules.”
Our union also strongly opposed the amendment offered by Representative Hice (R-GA), which would effectively codify the existence of Schedule F and allow future presidents to transfer career civil servants into Schedule F, where they could face summary removal. The Hice amendment was defeated.
The Biden administration has voiced support for H.R. 302. On the first day of his administration, President Biden repealed Trump’s Schedule F executive order. H.R. 302 would codify Biden’s directive to make sure that federal employment is not politicized.
“These career civil servants provide unbiased expertise and experience. The American people rely upon this expertise for program administration and delivery of services necessary for the functioning of the Federal government,” the administration said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation would codify the intent of that Executive Order by seeking to ensure that employment in the Federal workforce is based on merit, skill, and experience, and is not subject to politicization or favoritism.”