President Biden today signed an executive order that cancels a previous order issued by former President Trump last October that created a new “Schedule F” classification for Federal employees in policy-making positions and made it easier to hire and fire them.

The Trump order drew immediate fire from numerous members of Congress including Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who chairs the House Government Operations Subcommittee and who represents a district that is home to many Federal workers.

Earlier this month, Reps. Connolly and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., filed legislation to invalidate the order, which they said would create a political “patronage” system for Federal jobs at the expense of government hiring which should be based on the qualifications and expertise of candidates.

It does not appear that the Trump order had much of a lasting impact on the status of Federal employees, although it may have come close. According to a statement from Rep. Connolly earlier this week, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had done the necessary work to reclassify nearly 400 of its positions under Schedule F – totaling more than 80 percent of OMB staff – and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) had approved most of those reclassifications.

In announcing Biden’s intention to toss out the Schedule F order, the White House agreed that “its existence threatens the critical protections of career employees and provides a pathway to burrow political appointees into the civil service.”

“President Biden is absolutely right to shelve Trump’s reckless Schedule F proposal,” Rep. Connolly said today. “Our federal workforce should be filled with career experts, not political cronies. Now Congress must pass our Preventing a Patronage System Act to ensure no President can unilaterally attack our merit-based civil service system.”

“I thank President Biden for taking bold action on behalf of the federal employees who work tirelessly to serve the American people – despite the global pandemic,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

“This executive order goes a long way in repairing the damage done to the federal workforce by the Trump Administration over the last four years,” she said. “Rep. Connolly and I have been working to protect our dedicated federal workers from these harmful actions. We look forward to partnering with the new Administration to ensure that collective bargaining, whistleblower protection and merit principles remain a foundation of the federal civil service.”

The White House explained the actions in a statement today. The administration’s order also will cover a range of issues important to the Federal workforce, including revoking three other Trump orders – Executive Orders 13836, 13837, and 13839 – that had taken aim at collective bargaining power and worker protections.

And a coming order, the administration said, will also promote a $15 per hour minimum wage for Federal employees.

“These steps will help ensure the Federal government is a model employer and restore protections to career civil servants who are so essential to this country,” the White House said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.