April 15, 2024

Remember when former President Donald Trump issued an executive order creating Schedule F, a policy that makes it easier for a president to fire federal employees? It appears the Biden administration is trying to make it harder for a president to take such action. The move comes after a number of Republican presidential candidates vowed to slash the executive branch considerably if elected.

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The White House seems to be anticipating a potential Republican victory in the 2024 election. Given the current polling showing President Joe Biden in a statistical tie with Trump, they might have cause for such concerns.

The Biden administration is trying to protect unelected federal bureaucrats from being fired in the event of a Republican victory in 2024, according to a document filed with the Federal Register on Friday morning.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM), an agency that manages all federal workers, proposed a rule that would protect the vast majority of career civil servants from being dismissed without cause, and give them the right to appeal, according to the filing. The rule would oppose the efforts of some Republican presidential candidates — should they become president — to unilaterally fire bureaucrats who disagree with conservative policies, as they have vowed to do.

“The 2.2 million career civil servants active today are the backbone of the Federal workforce … [t]hese employees take an oath to uphold the Constitution and are accountable to agency leaders and managers who, in turn, are accountable to the President,” the filing reads. “[M]ere disagreement with leadership—without defiance of lawful orders—does not qualify as misconduct or unacceptable performance.”

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Typically, firing a federal employee is about as difficult as winning a game of tennis with a brick wall. This move on the part of the Biden administration seeks to make it even harder.

GOP presidential candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have both indicated that they would take a chainsaw to the executive branch if they are elected, citing rampant left-wing bias in the federal government. Indeed, at least some federal employees were actively working against Trump’s agenda while he was in office. Anyone remember Mr. Lodestar?

During Trump’s stint in the White House, he issued Executive Order 13957, creating Schedule F, which granted the president more latitude when it comes to hiring and firing federal workers. Upon taking office, Biden rescinded the order. The new proposal would grant unelected bureaucrats more protection even if they decide they want to work against the wishes of the administration.

While the OPM’s rule proposal might seem intended to promote continuity and stability, it’s clear that this is an effort to hinder political rivals from removing folks who are motivated by ideology rather than duty. It is also worth noting that even if this proposal becomes the rule, the next president could reverse it — just as Biden did with Trump’s order.

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Still, this move shows even further that Democrats are deeply concerned about Biden being defeated in 2024. If this were not the case, they wouldn’t be trying to formulate this type of insurance policy.

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