Republican lawmakers in the House and Senate have reintroduced a bill that would make it easier to fire Federal employees, making them at-will workers.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., and Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, introduced the Public Service Reform Act on May 9, which they said aims to increase accountability and efficiency in the Federal government by removing “poor-performing employees.”

The bill would also eliminate the Merit Systems Protection Board, which serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems to protect against partisan political and other prohibited personnel practices.

“It is far past time to reinstate accountability to the people for the Federal bureaucracy by requiring that like any private sector employee, Federal workers can be removed from their positions,” Rep. Roy said in a statement.

“Notwithstanding the majority of Federal workers who faithfully serve, especially our law enforcement personnel, we should not allow a wall of red tape to shield those engaged in noncompliance with the law and brazen political partisanship,” he continued. “Federal employees should keep their jobs based on merit, just like the people they serve.”

The bill covers all executive branch employees and limits appeals after termination to claims of whistleblower retaliation and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaints.

“It’s time to change Washington so it actually works for the American people. The Public Service Reform Act will boost accountability and responsiveness across the Federal government by making all executive branch employees at-will,” Sen. Scott said. “This is common sense and I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting this good bill.”

The idea of the bill is reminiscent of the Trump administration’s October 2020 executive order that created a new “Schedule F” classification for Federal employees deemed to be in policy-making positions.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., led the charge against the implementation of the executive order, which would have made it easier to hire and fire employees put into the proposed Schedule F class, arguing that the order would have created a “patronage system” for Federal jobs.

President Biden canceled his predecessor’s order shortly after taking office in 2021.

Democrats are continuing to push against any future version of the Trump administration’s Schedule F executive order.

Reps. Connolly and Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., introduced the Saving the Civil Service Act in February, which would prevent the wholesale reclassifications of Federal employees without the consent of lawmakers.

“Civil service employment should always be based upon merit and expertise, not political connections,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said at the time. “The security of our nation depends upon an efficient and competent Federal workforce.”

He continued, “This legislation would ensure that political loyalties play no significant role in hiring Federal employees, and I’m proud to co-lead this effort to further ensure that our workforce consists of the best and brightest individuals.”

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