Newly offered legislation in the House (HR-814) has signaled that the partisan disputes over Trump administration federal workplace policies will continue even though President Biden has revoked his predecessor’s key orders.
The bill would effectively block—by denying funding to carry it out—Biden’s executive order wiping out Trump administration orders on general bargaining practices, official time, disciplinary policies and proposed creation of a separate excepted service category for positions involved with policy or confidential advice to top officials. It effectively is a mirror image of language previously proposed by Democrats that would have blocked Trump’s orders by denying money to carry them out.
Such language most typically is enacted, if at all, as an amendment to an appropriations bill; the annual appropriations process hasn’t even started and typically does not conclude until near year’s end. Democrats did not succeed in gaining enactment of their version with Trump in office and the Senate controlled by Republicans; with Democrats now in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, prospects of enactment of the new Republican proposal would be slim.
However, the proposal signals that some Republicans at least have not given up on pursuing Trump’s federal personnel policies, and in particular his bid to restrict the role of unions in the federal workplace. Much of that has focused on official time—which the Trump administration had retitled “taxpayer-funded union time”—and the introductory comments on the new bill reflect that focus.
Other issues on which similar conflict could lie ahead include the scope of union bargaining, grievance practices, and reopening of contracts reflecting Trump policies on official time and other matters.