House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Connolly, D-Va., asked Office of Management and Budget (OMB) leaders in a Jan. 15 letter to halt implementation of the Trump administration’s 2020 executive order that created a new “Schedule F” classification for Federal employees in policy-making positions.

Rep. Connolly has led the charge against implementation of the order, which makes it easier to hire and fire employees in the Schedule F class, and which Rep. Connolly and other House Democrats have argued creates a “patronage system” for Federal jobs. Reps. Connolly and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., last week introduced legislation that would block the administration from implementing the executive order.

Urgency for action on blocking implementation of the order came last week, as Connolly said he had learned that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) had approved most of OMB request to reclassify nearly 400 positions to Schedule F – totaling more than 80 percent of OMB staff.

That move, Reps. Connolly and Maloney said in their Jan. 15 letter to OMB Director Russell Vought, “would remove Federal employee due process rights and allow employees to be hired and fired based practically on political allegiance.”

“We write to urge you not to proceed any further,” Reps. Connolly and Maloney said. “In the waning days of this Administration, it is highly inappropriate to implement this order, and we call upon you to act responsibly and halt further efforts to reclassify the positions of career civil servants at OMB to Schedule F.”

“We can only imagine what effect Mr. Vought’s proposed reclassification is having on this cadre of professionals as they work through the transition between the outgoing and incoming administrations,” the House Democrats said. “Will they be more reluctant to support one out of fear of reprisals from the other? This does not serve either President Trump or President-elect Joe Biden, and it certainly doesn’t serve the American public.”

“With just days before a new administration takes office, and as litigation is pending, OMB’s decision to implement Schedule F will only lead to additional protracted legal battles and a bureaucratic waste of government resources to the detriment of the vital operations of the agency,” Reps. Connolly and Maloney said. “In addition, it is simply cruel to strip Federal employees, who have faithfully and consistently served the American public throughout the pandemic, of civil service protections.”

“This Committee has made clear our grave concerns over the implementation of this executive order,” they said. “Yet, our appeals to reason and sound judgment have fallen on deaf ears. It is time for you to act like leaders and let your staff know they are valued. Cease implementation of this slapdash, callous executive order and avoid the bureaucratic and litigious nightmare it will surely cause.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.