Sep 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House passes bill to protect employment for civil service workers

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) attends a House Rules Committee hearing on the procedures for upcoming votes at the U.S. Capitol on June 28, 2021

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) attends House Rules Committee on June 28, 2021. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

House lawmakers on Thursday passed legislation that attempts to shore up protections for federal civil service employees.

Why it matters: The bill comes after Axios' Jonathan Swan reported on plans by top allies of former President Trump to implement "Schedule F" if elected in 2024, allowing him to replace tens of thousands of civil servant positions and career posts with loyalists.

Driving the news: The bill, introduced by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), would get rid of a category of Schedule F employees that was created by Trump via executive order in October 2020.

  • The bipartisan legislation, called "Preventing a Patronage System Act," was first introduced in January of 2021. It was co-sponsored by 16 lawmakers, including three Republicans.
  • The legislation passed in a 225-204 vote, with six Republicans supporting the measure.
  • President Biden rescinded the Schedule F category quickly after taking office, but Axios previously reported that Trump, if elected to a second term, would immediately reimpose it.

What they're saying: "The civil servants who make up our federal workforce are the engine that keep our federal government running," Connolly said in a statement on Thursday after the vote.

  • "The former president’s attempt to remove qualified experts and replace them with political loyalists threatened our national security and our government’s ability to function the way the American people expect it to," he said.
  • "Expertise, not fealty must define our civil service."

The big picture: Six Democratic senators last month introduced similar legislation, which would prevent any federal civil service position from being reclassified outside of merit system principles without the express consent of Congress, Axios' Sophia Cai reports.

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