New Biden administration rule makes it harder to fire federal workers

The Biden administration announced a final rule Thursday aimed to protect federal workers and make it harder to fire them, in an effort to prevent former President Trump from gutting the workforce if he’s reelected.

The rule, issued by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), clarifies that nonpartisan career civil servants with protected status can’t have that status taken away, and it prevents nonpartisan career civil servants from being reclassified as political appointees.

Trump in 2020 issued an executive order to allow reclassification of thousands of federal employees, which would take away their protections. When President Biden entered the White House, he revoked that executive order, which the White House said “risked altering our country’s long-standing merit-based civil service system.”

The White House said that Trump’s order, known as “Schedule F,” “would have stripped career civil servants of their civil service protections that ensure that decisions to hire and fire are based on merit, not political considerations.”

This new rule is expected to prevent Trump from another executive order of this kind if he’s reelected. It clarifies that policymaking classifications cannot be applied to nonpartisan career civil servants, only to noncareer political appointees.

“Today, my Administration is announcing protections for 2.2 million career civil servants from political interference, to guarantee that they can carry out their responsibilities in the best interest of the American people,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. “This rule is a step toward combatting corruption and partisan interference to ensure civil servants are able to focus on the most important task at hand: delivering for the American people.”

The OPM reviewed more than 4,000 comments submitted by the public during the rulemaking process, according to the agency.

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