The House of Representatives voted 225-204 on Sept. 15 to approve the Preventing a Patronage System Act, which aims to block any future moves to assign Federal workers to newly created “excepted” service schedules.

Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., introduced the bipartisan bill in January 2021, in an effort to halt the implementation of the Trump administration’s October 2020 executive order that created a new “Schedule F” classification for Federal employees in policy-making positions.

Rep. Connolly led the charge against the implementation of the executive order, which makes it easier to hire and fire employees in the Schedule F class, and which Rep. Connolly and other House Democrats have argued creates a “patronage system” for Federal jobs. President Biden cancelled his predecessor’s order shortly after taking office last year.

“The civil servants who make up our Federal workforce are the engine that keep our Federal government running,” Rep. Connolly, chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, said in a Sept. 15 statement. “We rely on their experience and expertise to provide every basic government service – from delivering the mail to helping families in the wake of natural disasters.”

“The former president’s attempt to remove qualified experts and replace them with political loyalists threatened our national security and our government’s ability to function the way the American people expect it to,” he added. “Expertise, not fealty must define our civil service.”

Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Mark Warner, D-Va., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Alex Padilla, D-Calif., introduced companion legislation in the Senate last month and applauded House passage of the legislation this week.

“From protecting our national security to administering Social Security benefits, our civil servants are invaluable to keeping our government running and providing critical services to Americans,” said the senators. “We’re glad to see the House of Representatives pass our bill to protect the merit-based hiring system for our federal workforce, and we’ll be pushing to follow suit in the Senate.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.