Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) has reintroduced legislation that would block federal employees from being reclassified to Schedule F under the Executive Order that was issued by President Trump last October.
Connolly introduced the bill in the previous session of Congress but it ultimately failed to advance. There was a Senate version of the bill introduced in the last session of Congress as well that also failed to advance.
The Preventing a Patronage System Act (H.R. 302), as the new bill is known, would prevent any position in the competitive service from being reclassified to an excepted service schedule created after September 30, 2020 and also limit federal employee reclassifications to the five excepted service schedules in use prior to fiscal year 2021. It would also block any reclassifications of federal employees to Schedule F pursuant to the Executive Order signed on October 21, 2020.
“Congress has a responsibility to protect our civil service from returning to a failed patronage system,” said Connolly. “Our legislation will ensure no administration pursues a path that would allow the hiring of political cronies and allies at the expense of expertise and maintains protections for civil servants so they cannot be fired for standing up to political pressure.”
Some agencies have already begun implementing Schedule F. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Energy both started to identify potential positions to become Schedule F appointments shortly after the Executive Order was issued.
It is quite possible that incoming president Joe Biden will rescind the Schedule F Executive Order, however, as FedSmith author Jeff Neal wrote recently, it may not be as simple as merely rescinding the previous Order with a new one if the change has already gotten underway.