In the first of many expected moves by President Donald Trump to “drain the swamp” in Washington, the man in the Oval Office yesterday signed an executive order to freeze hiring for civilian positions in the federal government.
In a memo accompanying his executive order, Trump wrote, “In carrying out this memorandum, I ask that you seek efficient use of existing personnel and funds to improve public services and the delivery of these services.” (He did say there are “limited circumstances” in which agencies can continue to fill positions and create new ones.)
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the move “counters the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years” and was designed to reduce waste by the federal government. Of course, the actual numbers show a different trend in federal hiring during the Obama years.
Here in Maryland, a state where approximately 5.5 percent of the total workforce are civilian employees of the federal government, it’s somewhat concerning.
Rep. Steny Hoyer, whose district includes sections of Prince George’s County right outside D.C., told Federal News Radio yesterday that the executive action “will do nothing to streamline government operations or reap significant budget savings. On the contrary; it will hinder the functioning and efficiency of our government by forcing fewer workers to serve more and more Americans and deterring our best and brightest young people from entering the federal workforce.”
Both of Maryland’s Democratic senators were also critical:
Trump's 'hiring freeze' is a misinformed attack on civil servants that involved as much thought as one of his tweets https://t.co/Tm6N6k0GtV
— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) January 23, 2017
We cannot attract/maintain qualified personnel by undervaluing our civil servants. It isn’t the way America should be treating its people.
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) January 23, 2017
Other conservative leaders and experts have argued the move won’t have too much of an effect. Rep. Andy Harris, the state’s sole Republican congressman, indicated he felt it was a sensible move to reduce spending.
Christopher Summers, leader of the right-wing Maryland Public Policy Institute, told the Sun it’s not about cutting; it’s just a stop to hiring to cut spending. “I wouldn’t expect Maryland to be that affected by this at all,” he said of the short-term consequences.
Trump had mentioned this was in his plans back in October before he was elected. It was second on his list of planned actions for his first 100 days in office.
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