Trump passes executive order to strip civil service protections

Trump passes executive order to strip civil service protections
3 min read
24 October, 2020
Donald Trump has signed an executive order on the eve of presidential elections in what experts believe is a bid to secure his administration in the event of a loss.
Trmp could throw a spanner in the works for a potential Biden administration [Getty]
Donald Trump created a new executive order on the eve of presidential elections, which could potentially cause a Joe Biden administration problem.

The order creates a new class of federal positions "confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating" careers under the umbrella of 'Schedule F'.

Under the new order, agency executives would be able to flexibly hire and fire individuals across policymaking positions.

Previously, such federal roles were protected, however the new executive order removes such protections and in the event of a Joe Biden victory, advisory roles may become filled with a Trump-heavy administration.

Employees included experts in science, medicine, the environment, economists and people working in law and such positions are "not normally subject to change as the result of a presidential transition".

Trump could essentially cull these important, impartial members of the civil service in charge of advising the president. He has in the past clashed with scientists on climate change, medical experts on the topic of Covid-19 and even the economy, calling them part of the "deep state".

Federal agencies will have 90 days to complete a review of positions reclassified under the order, with the first deadline on 19 January 2021, one day before the new presidential inauguration.

Some of the jobs likely to be reclassified in this manner include attorneys, policy advocacy positions and negotiators.

"This scheme, if it stands up in court, would transform a substantial portion of the professional federal workforce into a political federal workforce," The Washington Post wrote in an editorial.

"Evidence-based decision-making would fall to cronyism; expertise would go out the window and patronage would fly in."

Trump attacks experts

Trump has a recorded history of clashing with experts and installing people in positions of power who appear to have conflicts of interest or who reflect his ideologies.

In September the Trump administration attempted to appoint three researchers who doubt the severity of climate change at the US National and Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"The pitch was I would have new influence on the future direction of the agency," atmospheric science professor John Christy told the Science Magazine on being approached for the role, adding that if he had accepted the job, "I would redirect money from the climate modelling project into the weather modelling project."

During an interview on the California wildfires, Trump traveled to Northern California to be briefed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state and federal officials. At one point, state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot urged the president to "recognise the changing climate and what it means to our forests".

Trump responded by saying the planet will unexpectedly start cooling – this is at odds with current scientific fact.

His decision to appoint Amy Coney Barret for the supreme court was met with backlash, with activists warning she is a threat to abortion rights, the environment and healthcare.

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