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President Donald Trump is seen in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington Friday, March 24, 2017, where it was announced the approval of a permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline, clearing the way for the $8 billion project. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Here's one way Trump can shrink the government: Reform the protections for civil servants


Here's one way Trump can shrink the government: Reform the protections for civil servants

WATCH | Trump is urged to revamp federal worker protections.

President Trump promised to reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy. But in Washington, the president can’t just fire career civil servants, so one conservative group is pushing the president to upend the whole system to give Trump the power to fire unelected government employees.

"We can also reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy," Trump said last September.

Unlike with the Trump Organization, Trump can’t just say "you’re fired" to the nearly 3 million workers in the federal government who implement laws.

Since taking office Trump has implemented a hiring freeze across federal agencies. But he’s unable to fire government employees because of the Pendleton Act, a 19th-century law that protects civil servants amid changing political tides, like in the event of an administration change.

But the conservative group American Legislative Exchange Council thinks that, if Trump really wants to shrink government, he should work with Congress to revamp the Pendleton Act.

the bureaucracy should carry out the will of the elected leaders and not the other way around.
Inez Feltscher, ALEC

To make sure the priorities of the civil service align with those of the president, ALEC wants to see the federal government embrace reforms like Georgia did in the 90s-- they got rid of the seniority system, made their state workers “at will,” and made pay raises merit based. This would also allow Trump to get rid of bureaucrats he doesn’t like.

Really, the core of the civil service, in our country, in every developed country in the world, is that you are free from political interference.
Elaine Kamarck, Brookings Institute

But not everyone is onboard. Opponents argue that these changes would run counter to the design of the civil service as a home for nonpartisan experts.

The White House said they are “considering all options” when it comes to reforming the civil service, but any attempts to reduce the size of the federal workforce is sure to draw the ire of the those who already lashed out against Trump for his hiring freeze.

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