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Senate Dems Fight to Prevent ‘Draining The Swamp’

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Senate Democrats are scrambling to enact legislation that would prevent former President Donald Trump or another Republican elected as president in 2024 from replacing or removing nearly 50,000 federal government employees.

In the waning days of his presidency, Trump signed an executive order known as “Schedule F” that would have allowed him to replace not just the 4,000 or so political appointees that presidents typically change out administration-to-administration, but an estimated 50,000 additional civil servants that usually maintain job security regardless of who is in the Oval Office, Axios reported — part of his pledge to “drain the swamp.” In the last couple weeks Senate Democrats have begun trying to put guardrails in place to prevent Trump or another GOP president from creating a civil service more in line with his agenda, according to Axios.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia introduced legislation on Tuesday to “secure the civil service and protect tens of thousands of federal employees from losing job protections and due process rights” from Schedule F reclassification.

“Our career, non-partisan public sector workforce is one of our nation’s greatest assets. The last thing we need is for a president to fire dedicated and experienced public servants and replace them with sycophants and grifters without the skills to carry out the functions of government within the rule of law,” said Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, another sponsor of the bill, in a press release.

The chair of a congressional subcommittee overseeing the civil service, Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly, also penned an op-ed in The Washington Post last week arguing against Schedule F reclassifications and has sought to add an amendment to this year’s defense spending package to prevent them in the future.

“No administration should be allowed to politicize the civil service. My amendment preserves congressional prerogative in determining which federal employees are vested with civil service protections and which are not,” Connolly told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Future Administrations would be required to come to Congress for statutory authority before making sweeping changes to federal workforce classifications and protections. A core principle of our civil service must remain – that expertise and not political loyalty run this nation.”

Both Kaine and Connolly represent districts in Virginia, where, notably, many civil servants reside.

Between 1997 and 2019, Democrats made up about half of federal bureaucrats, while Republicans constituted between a third and a quarter and the rest were independents, according to a study from Northwestern University. There are roughly 2 million federal employees, according to Axios, so the estimated 50,000 that Schedule F would set its sights on make up just 2.5% of all federal jobs.

Many prominent Republicans like Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Josh Hawley told Axios that they were either sympathetic to Schedule F reclassifications or other overhauls to federal bureaucratic infrastructure.

“Schedule F was a step in the right direction: We need to do more to hold the D.C. bureaucracy accountable. Great employees need to be rewarded and underperformers shown the door,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Axios.

Neither Kaine nor the Office of Personnel Management immediately responded to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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