Since the US Constitution passed in 1787, the role and power of the president have significantly expanded. Today, the commander-in-chief has taken on the “crisis manager” position in a way the founders could never have foreseen. At the time, many of them viewed the president as a head of state and a person who represented the entire nation. They designed the presidency to act as a symbol, a check and balance on the legislative and judicial branches, and to execute the laws of the land. That meant the POTUS had discretion in creating policies to fulfill their Constitutional obligations.
During the 2016 presidential election, then-Republican candidate Donald Trump claimed the deep state was running the government. He insinuated it was largely represented by the Left and often found ways to accomplish their goals regardless of the people’s will. In 2020, Trump signed an executive order (EO) known as “Schedule F.” It enabled him to fire employees responsible for creating or executing the administration’s policies. Though Biden terminated it shortly after coming into office, a future head of the executive branch could bring it back. One congressman wants to make sure that doesn’t happen.
What Is Schedule F?
What the EO did was create a new category of employment for federal workers. If one’s role involved determining, making, or advocating for an administration’s policies, one would lose certain employment protections. As head of the government responsible for creating policies and enforcing laws, the president could hire or fire individuals in this category based on merit over other federal requirements.
Schedule F could force tens of thousands of civil servants who have a role in making or enforcing policies to be reassigned or fired.
So, with each change of administration, thousands of federal employees could lose their jobs if an administration perceives the bureaucrats don’t align with their policy objectives. Although Biden terminated the EO, on March 12, Trump said he would bring it back if re-elected in 2024. He stated under a new administration, the deep state would be held accountable.
Democrat Proposes Law to Prevent a Return of Schedule F
In 1883, Congress passed the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act. The law states supervisors and politicians can’t fire or demote someone for political reasons. It established a merit-based system to determine how government officials were hired and how their work was supervised. Today, it applies to most of its 2.9 million employees. Still, it didn’t address the president’s ability to separate senior-level staff involved in creating and carrying out an administration’s policies.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) recently proposed the Preventing a Patronage System Act. It would prohibit the nation’s chief executive from re-instituting Schedule F. Connolly argues it would protect workers from politicization.
Congress could vote on the proposal as part of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In addition, Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD) also inserted the provision’s language in the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill. Both should come up for votes by the end of the government’s fiscal year on September 30.