House passes bill seeking to protect federal civil service employees from Trump

The House on Thursday passed a bill that seeks to protect federal civil service employees from “Schedule F,” an executive order former President Trump signed that would make it easier for the White House to replace federal workers with loyalists.

The legislation, titled the Preventing a Patronage System Act, passed in a 225-204 vote. Six Republicans joined all voting Democrats in supporting the measure.

A group of Democratic senators introduced a bill in the upper chamber under the same name. The legislation would need to win the backing of at least 10 GOP senators to get past a Senate filibuster.

Trump in October 2020 — roughly two weeks before the election — signed an executive order creating Schedule F in the excepted service, making it easier for him to hire and fire civil servants that work on policy.

Excepted service positions are not required to abide by rules and regulations laid out by the competitive service. Thousands of civil servants would be moved to Schedule F should it be imposed, according to Axios.

Trump’s executive order drew headlines over concerns that the new measure could make it easier to hire employees who do not have adequate experience to serve in the position they are put up for.

President Biden rescinded the executive order in January 2021, but it gained renewed focus in recent weeks after Axios published an extensive report detailing Trump’s plans to reimpose Schedule F should he be elected president in 2024.

Trump is widely expected to run for the GOP nomination for president, and would be considered the front-runner.

The legislation passed by the House on Thursday, however, would prevent federal government positions in the competitive service from being moved outside the merit system principles without consent from Congress.

“We rely on their experience and expertise to provide every basic government service—from delivering the mail to helping families in the wake of natural disasters,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement on Thursday, after the bill passed.

“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. Expertise, not fealty must define our civil service,” he added.

Additionally, the bill would curb the regrouping of federal employees to the five excepted schedules that are currently established, and prevent federal employees from being reclassified to Schedule F in accordance with Trump’s executive order.

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