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A new regulation that makes it tougher to fire federal employees could go against Trump's plans to overhaul the government

The government’s main human resources agency issued a new rule on Thursday to make it more difficult to dismiss thousands of federal employees, aiming to prevent former President Donald Trump from drastically changing the workforce based on ideology if he

The main government human resources agency issued a new rule on Thursday to make it more difficult to dismiss thousands of federal workers, in an attempt to prevent former President Donald Trump from radically reshaping the workforce based on ideology if he wins back the presidency in November.

The new Office of Personnel Management rules prevent career civil servants from being changed into political appointees or other at-will workers, who can be fired more easily.

This is in response to Schedule F, an order from Trump in 2020 that aimed to reclassify tens of thousands of the 2.2 million federal employees and reduce their job security protections.

President Joe Biden canceled Schedule F when he took office. But if Trump were to bring it back during a second term, it could significantly increase the nearly 4,000 federal employees who are considered political appointees and usually change with each new president.

Biden sees the rule as a way to fight corruption and partisan interference to ensure that civil servants can focus on delivering for the American people.

The potential impact of the change is significant because it is not clear how many federal employees might have been affected by Schedule F. The National Treasury Employee Union obtained documents suggesting that workers such as office managers and experts in human resources and cybersecurity might have been subject to reclassification.

The new rule is intended to counter a possible Schedule F order by specifying the procedural requirements for reclassifying federal employees and clarifying that civil service protections earned by employees cannot be taken away, regardless of job type. It also confirms that policymaking classifications apply to noncareer, political appointments.

Organizations and activists supporting good governance have welcomed the change. They consider solidifying federal worker protections as a major priority because replacing current government employees with new, more conservative alternatives is a key part of a plan led by former Trump administration officials and the Heritage Foundation think tank, known as Project 2025.

The plan aims to vet and potentially dismiss numerous federal workers and recruit conservative replacements in order to eliminate what leading Republicans have long criticized as the “deep state” government bureaucracy.

Doreen Greenwald, president of the treasury union, mentioned that the new rule “will now make it much more difficult for any president to arbitrarily remove the nonpartisan professionals who staff our federal agencies just to make room for hand-picked partisan loyalists.”

However, Kentucky Rep. James Comer, chair of the House Oversight Committee, argued that it was “another example of the Biden Administration’s efforts to shield the federal workforce from accountability.”

“The Biden Administration’s rule will further undermine Americans’ confidence in their government since it allows poor performing federal workers and those who attempt to thwart the policies of a duly elected President to remain entrenched in the federal bureaucracy,” Comer said in a statement.

He also said his committee will keep doing strict oversight of the federal workforce and will consider making the unelected, unaccountable federal workforce more responsible.

Skye Perryman, who is president and CEO of Democracy Forward, called the rule a very strong response to the well-funded anti-democratic groups behind Project 2025.

Perryman said this is essential for ensuring that the government serves the people, and that's the essence of democracy.

The rule, which is 237 pages long, will be officially effective next month when it is published in the federal registry.

The Office of Personnel Management initially suggested the changes last November and received over 4,000 public comments. Despite opposition from some top conservative organizations, around two-thirds of the comments were in support.

If Trump gets reelected, his administration could instruct the Office of Personnel Management to create new rules. But this process is time-consuming and requires detailed explanation for any improvements, which could lead to legal challenges from opponents.

According to Rob Shriver, the new rule ensures that federal employee protections cannot be removed through a technical HR process, as was attempted with Schedule F.

Shriver emphasized that this rule is about ensuring that federal workers can apply their skills and expertise without their personal political beliefs affecting their jobs.

He pointed out that 85% of federal workers are located outside Washington, D.C., and are dedicated to serving the American people, not political agendas.

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