Spanberger Votes to Protect Virginia’s Federal Employees, Push Back Against Efforts to Purge Career Public Servants

In Recent Weeks, Several Right-Wing Organizations Have Expressed Interest in Bringing Back Former President Trump’s Controversial “Schedule F” Order in the Event of His Return to the Oval Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger today voted to protect Virginia’s federal employees, push back against efforts to revive the “Schedule F” Executive Order, and demonstrate renewed support for America’s career public servants.

Former President Trump’s September 2020 Executive Order creating “Schedule F” would have gutted protections for career civil servants and expanded the influence of political appointees and agency heads on the civil service. Under this Executive Order, agencies could move competitive and excepted service employees to Schedule F without the employees’ consent. Once under Schedule F, the agencies wouldn’t have to follow civil service rules around hiring and firing. In addition, political appointees could move to Schedule F without competition — essentially making it easier to burrow into the competitive service.

President Biden reversed this Executive Order and abolished Schedule F on January 22, 2021. However, new reports have highlighted that partisan operatives, public policy organizations, and think tanks are preparing to put the careers of as many as 50,000 federal employees on the chopping block, should former President Donald Trump or other Republicans willing to decimate the federal workforce enter the White House.

To protect Virginia’s federal employees, Spanberger voted to pass the bipartisan Preventing a Patronage System Act, which would block any position in the federal competitive service from being reclassified outside of merit system principles without the express consent of Congress. This bill would defend the civil service and protect tens of thousands of federal employees from losing job protections and due process rights. 

“As I’ve said before, the Schedule F order was a direct attack on the commitment, expertise, and morale of America’s career public servants — many of whom call Virginia home. The federal workforce is made up of dedicated professionals — including law enforcement officers, accountants, scientists, infectious disease researchers, and attorneys — who do not deserve another reckless campaign of contempt directed at them,” said Spanberger. “Today, I was proud to vote for this bipartisan legislation, which would prevent future administrations from changing the rules to hire more political loyalists and to fire experts. Virginia’s federal employees deserve fair treatment no matter who is in the White House, and I will keep pushing back against the partisan hacks who are intent on chipping away at the expertise and strength of the federal workforce.”

“AFGE strongly supports H.R. 302, the Preventing a Patronage System Act, and opposes all efforts to subvert the people’s government and return America to a corrupt, ineffective spoils system. We applaud Congress for taking decisive action to prevent any future president from firing thousands of dedicated public servants and replacing them with unqualified cronies answerable only to a handful of politicians instead of to the Constitution and laws of the United States. We thank Rep. Spanberger for pushing back against partisan attacks and standing with the federal employees she represents,” said Everett Kelley, National President, American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

“The attempt by the previous administration to return to the corrupt spoils system of the 19th century was unsuccessful, but we know that Schedule F proponents are not giving up and are plotting to try again, which is why the Preventing a Patronage System Act is so important,” said Tony Reardon, National President, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). “Rep. Spanberger has a keen understanding that our nation’s civil service needs to remain merit-based, with day-to-day government services in the hands of professionals who are committed to the missions of their agencies — and we commend her support for this legislation.”

“Lawmakers must uphold the tenet that civil servants are hired and fired based on merit, not political affiliation, a practice that has served our country well since the late 1800s. The Preventing a Patronage System Act, introduced last year by Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-VA, provides a bipartisan, congressional check on abuse of executive powers and protects the merit-based, nonpartisan civil service upon which our nation has relied for more than a century. A competitive civil service protects the honor of the federal government to work on behalf of the American people. It provides continuity through changing administrations and ensures public servants’ primary allegiance is to the Constitution and laws of the United States rather than the individual temporarily holding the office of President. Protection of this practice strengthens our civil service, and our democracy,” said Ken Thomas, President, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). “We thank Rep. Spanberger for her support of this legislation.”

Spanberger has consistently opposed efforts to attack the federal workforce. In July 2022, Spanberger strongly condemned recently revived efforts to reinstate Schedule F. And earlier that month, she voted in support of an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act that would block future administrations from bringing back the Executive Order.

The Preventing a Patronage System Act is endorsed by American Federation of Government Employees, National Treasury Employees Union, National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, Senior Executives Association, National Federation of Federal Employees, Professional Managers Association, American Society for Public Administration, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, National Weather Service Employees Organization, Patent Office Professional Association, United Power Trades Organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, Civic Leadership Education and Research Initiative, Project Blueprint, FAA Managers Association, National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration.

The bipartisan bill is led by U.S. Representatives Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01). Companion legislation is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Alex Padilla (D-CA).

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