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SOTU: Trump Says Congress Should Give Gov. Agencies Power to Fire Employees

by Countable | 1.31.18

What’s the story?

During his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump called for Congress to give the heads of federal agencies the power to fire federal workers:

"Tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people."

Why does it matter?

Federal job protections make it difficult for agencies to fire civil servants. But the Trump administration has been working to make it easier for agency heads to "drain the swamp."

In his speech, the president noted that since Congress passed the Veterans Affairs Accountability Act last year, his "administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve, and we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do."

And in April, Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, sent a memo to all federal agencies asking them "to determine whether their current policies and practices are barriers to hiring and retaining the workforce necessary to execute their missions." Mulvaney advised “removing poor performers."

Federal workers, and their unions, pushed back against Trump's remarks.

Tony Reardon, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union, told FCW News that:

"It is unfortunate that the president chose to single out our world-class civil service tonight leaving the impression that federal employees are not dedicated to public service, committed to the missions of their agencies and honorable Americans."

Nebraska state Sen. Adam Morfeld (D) was a bit more blunt in his tweet:

What do you think?

Do you want "Congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees"? Or would it just “authorize purges of federal employees who dissent”? Trump called on Congress, now it’s your turn—hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your comments below.

—Josh Herman

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(253)
  • John
    01/31/2018
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    This seems like a veiled attempt to squash any dissent with the current administration. Having worked in civil service for over 10 years, I know that there are already regulations in place that allow agencies to dismiss poor performers. There is a huge difference in poor performance and disagreement with political figures. This is nothing more than an appeal by the President to his base who believe all government workers are lazy and don’t do anything. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Don’t allow the civil service to become a political football.

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  • Marylynn
    01/31/2018
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    Is the White House, Congress and Senate going to become the next reality tv show? I think the Liar in Chief is going through withdrawals not being on tv and being able to repeatedly say, "you're fired"... Pathetic. What a horrible example of a leader and I use that term loosely.

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  • Adam
    02/01/2018
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    This was the most dangerous line from trump’s state of the union. The executive branch has plenty of power, they certainly do not need this power. It can be used to remove perceived political opponents to benefit, for example, an executive branch that is under criminal investigation. DO NOT HEED HIS CALL.

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  • Lori
    01/31/2018
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    Even in a Union, poorly performing workers can be fired. It just takes documenting their failings and following the process. They can not be fired on a whim or because they belong to a particular political party. We need to protect civil service employees from becoming the target of partisan attacks, or we risk losing continuity in our government services. Should an Army widow have to wait to receive her death benefits just because the person who knows how to do the paperwork was fired due to having the wrong bumper sticker on her car?

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  • Suzanne
    02/01/2018
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    The real intent here is the President trying to fire anyone not “loyal”. The very idea is ridiculous! Do not give unlimited power to the presidency.

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  • Christine
    01/31/2018
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    You mean the way he immediately fired traitorous General Flynn when Sally Yates warned him of contacts with russians? Oh wait, djt fired HER and kept flynn around for 18 more days AND asked Comey to go”easy” on flynn. Disgraceful!

    Like (44)
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  • John
    01/31/2018
    ···

    Senators Donnelly and Young, Rep Brooks, please work tirelessly to impeach 45. Hold Trump accountable: His disregard for the Truth, unresolved sexual harassment claims, mental health issues surrounding malignant narcissism, unrepentant hate speech, and collusion with Russia. Also, where is the OUTRAGE over his FAILURE to mention the opioid epidemic, gun violence, Syria catastrophe, Puerto Rico debacle, Russian meddling in our elections and #metoo during SOTU. What voices from Indiana do you need to hear? WAKE UP!

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  • Ramona
    01/31/2018
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    Absolutely not. Why bring politics into these type of decisions?! Hell no! This is trump moving our country closer and closer to the fascist edge!!!

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  • Baron
    01/31/2018
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    What is the definition of “a good worker?” One who belongs to the “right “ party? There is already too much weeding out of good people for the wrong reasons. I strongly disagree with trumps proposal.

    Like (32)
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  • Vicky
    02/01/2018
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    This is not American!! Get these idiots out of office

    Like (29)
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  • Melissa
    02/01/2018
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    We, the people, at least those who are paying attention, see this for what it is. This will make it easier to fire federal employees who aren’t “on his team”. His words, not mine. Including, but not limited to, Mueller. He has no interest in presidency. His end goal is monarchy. That’s not America. We must defend the country we love and the democracy we symbolize.

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  • GatewayJohn
    01/31/2018
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    Can we start with Donald J Trump

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  • PLD
    02/01/2018
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    Please fight the proposal made by #45 to expand the power of cabinet members to fire employees. The current administration are already guilty of infringing on the legal rights of citizens. The idea of expanding further power is terrifying!

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  • Bryan
    02/01/2018
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    Federal job protections act as a framework to protect career public servants from political purges. I call on my representative Sam Johnson and Senators Cornyn and Cruz to resist any attempt to roll back these protections.

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  • Carolyn
    02/01/2018
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    It is amazing that Trump is happy to “drain the swamp” when it comes to regular workers. But he is happy to add monsters to the swamp when it comes to his cabinet leaders. Federal workers have protections from arbitrary firing for a reason. Their supervisors should not be able to fire them for things like their political stance. With each comment Trump makes we inch closer and closer to a dictatorship.

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  • Justin
    01/31/2018
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    Wish the cabinet would invoke the 25 amendment & get rid of our national disgrace president Trump !

    Like (18)
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  • Kirby
    02/01/2018
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    Giving Trump the option to eliminate federal employees is a bad idea. Please vote no.

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  • Michael.J.L
    01/31/2018
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    Trump is trying to get the authority to fire anyone he wants in any department via through orders to the department Secretaries to do so.

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  • Rod
    02/01/2018
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    No. We have gone quite far enough with the ‘you’re fired’ Bullshit. Leave the present rules in place.

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  • Keith
    01/31/2018
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    The president wants to fire government employees? Why does this sound so very suspicious? Especially in light of the recent report by the NYT that he tried firing Mueller this summer, and was forbidden. Since my representatives are all Republicans, let me ask it like this: If Hillary Clinton had given that same speech, how would you respond to it? Most republicans seem more concerned about text messages mentioning a secret society, than they are the threat to democracy sitting in the White House. It makes me wonder why.

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