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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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