A group of Senate Democrats has introduced legislation that would protect career federal employees from being ousted under new presidential administrations.
The Preventing a Patronage System Act would mean that without the approval of Congress, a president could not treat tens of thousands of civil service workers as political appointees and replace them with their preferred candidates for reasons unrelated to merit.
The legislation is Democrats’ latest effort to institute the protections and takes aim at former President Trump, who in 2020 issued an executive order that would have made “an exception to competitive hiring rules.” Democrats argued the move would have diminished job protections and due process while paving the way for a president to replace career employees with loyalists.
President Biden repealed the order last year before it took effect.
“The last thing we need is for a president to fire dedicated and experienced public servants and replace them with sycophants and grifters without the skills to carry out the functions of government within the rule of law,” Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said.
In addition to the Maryland senator, Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla of California, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia, and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland introduced the bill.
The bill’s introduction also follows a recent Axios report that Mr. Trump and his allies, should he return to the Oval Office in 2024, would move to purge civil servants who some Republicans have contended are primarily liberals. Other 2024 hopefuls have also expressed support for such a move.
Similar legislation in the House, led by Democratic Rep. Gerry E. Connolly of Virginia, was introduced with bipartisan support last year just days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
It was included in the House’s version of the annual defense bill passed by the chamber last month but has not been approved by the full Congress.