AFGE is watching closely if Congress targets specific federal workers under the so-called Holman Rule revived by House Republicans, and we will be ready to mobilize our members in opposition.
The House passed the rule change Jan. 9 as part of a package of new rules to govern their activities during the new session of Congress. Any action proposed under the Holman rule would require affirmative votes by the House and Senate and the approval of the president.
The Holman Rule, named for the lawmaker who devised it in the late 1870s, allows amendments on the House floor to cut federal spending by targeting specific named employees for firing or salary reductions in appropriations bills.
Under this rule, lawmakers will be able to vote to eliminate the jobs of individual workers, programs, offices, or even entire military installations. Jobs could be cut without adhering to normal reduction-in-force (RIF) rules, meaning factors like veterans’ status, length of employee service, and high-performance ratings will not apply.
By failing to receive input from agencies or other stakeholders, lawmakers could end up cutting critical personnel without knowing the negative impact until it is too late.
The Holman Rule undermines civil service protections for the millions of working people who process our Social Security checks, take care of our veterans, support our military, protect communities outside the prison walls, research cures for deadly diseases, and carry out programs and services that are vital to our nation. It is a license for members of Congress to hunt and target individual federal workers or entire groups of federal workers for retaliation.
“The whole point of it is to use it recklessly. There’s no way to use it responsibly,” AFGE Public Policy Director Jacqueline Simon said. “It goes around everything that protects the civil service from political corruption — not just federal employees but entire agencies. It is precisely for theater and to create chaos and disrupt the operation of federal agencies, including law enforcement agencies.”