Congress

House Dems look to funding bill to block Schedule F

Steny Hoyer  speaks at a press conference at the National Press Club SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 Shutterstock image by Albert H. Teich 

Steny Hoyer speaks at a press conference at the National Press Club in 2014. (Image credit: Albert H. Teich/Shutterstock.com)

A group of House Democrats including Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) are pushing for appropriators to block the implementation of the Schedule F federal employee reclassification in a must-pass funding bill needed to avoid a government shutdown.

In a Nov. 24 letter to the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate appropriations committees, the lawmakers warn that the implementation of the executive order establishing the Schedule F classification "could multiply the number of political appointees within the federal workforce by tens of thousands and permit the firing of current federal employees."

Congress has to pass a slate of appropriations bills or a new continuing resolution before the current stopgap funding bill expires on Dec. 11 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

The Schedule F classification, created by executive order in October, is designed to convert positions that are "of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character" to an at-will employment status that are not subject to civil service protections or collective bargaining.

Agencies have until the day before the presidential inauguration, Jan. 19, 2021, to submit preliminary reviews of positions to be reclassified to the Office of Personnel Management. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget confirmed that the agency has already created its initial list, which includes 88% of the agency's positions. Agencies have until March 2021 to petition the Office of Personnel Management to reclassify a final list of positions.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to reverse the executive order upon taking office, but it is possible that conversions could take place before the new administration takes office, allowing for the conversion of Trump administration political appointees to take over roles traditionally occupied by career civil servants. Additionally, the "implementing it now would waste significant time and resources as a result of the unnecessary classification and reclassification of thousands of federal employees."

The signers of the letter recommend borrowing the legislative language of the Saving the Civil Service Act, sponsored by Hoyer and Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).

The letter follows a request from several Democratic senators and representatives on Nov. 23 for the Government Accountability Office to brief lawmakers on OPM’s implementation of the executive order. Democrats in both houses have also already introduced legislation that would block the use of federal funds to implement the order.

About the Author

Natalie Alms is a staff writer at FCW covering the federal workforce. She is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University and has written for the Salisbury (N.C.) Post. Connect with Natalie on Twitter at @AlmsNatalie.

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