Bipartisan House bill would block Schedule F conversions

The bill is the latest of several legislative attempts to block an executive order that could remake parts of the civil service into at-will employees.

Legislation to block the executive order was introduced in the 116 Congress, but did not pass. Efforts to block the order's execution via appropriations legislation also failed.
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Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) and Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) introduced a bill on Wednesday aimed at blocking the implementation of an executive order that could move swaths of the civil service into the excepted service, taking away civil service protections from employees in those positions and making them essentially at-will employees.

The Preventing a Patronage System Act blocks the reclassification of any competitive service position to an excepted service schedule made after September 30, 2020.

The Schedule F executive order was signed on October 21 of last year, so if signed into law, the bill would block the reclassification of positions to Schedule F. It allows agencies to move certain policy-related and supervisory positions to the new Schedule F category.

It wouldn't block the reclassification of positions to other schedules that already existed on Sept. 30 of last year, including Schedules A through E, although it would limit reclassifications to those categories to the terms and conditions that existed for them as of that date.

The bill would also limit the transfer of excepted service positions to other excepted service schedules made after Sept. 30 of last year.

Fitzpatrick said in a statement that his bill would "make sure our dedicated civil servants … are not undercut by patronage."

"Congress has a responsibility to protect our civil service from returning to a failed patronage system," said Connolly, who is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Agencies have an initial deadline to send the Office of Personnel Management a list of positions to move by Tuesday, which is the day before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The incoming president has been called on by good governance groups, public sector employee groups and management organizations to repeal the executive order.

The Office of Management and Budget created its initial list of positions to be reclassified, which included 88% of their workforce, in late November.

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