Fedweek

The dispute over the Trump administration’s “Schedule F” executive order could hold the potential for raising the chances of a partial government shutdown in less than two weeks.

As agencies push to produce lists of career competitive service positions that could be converted to excepted service status—those involved with making, advocating or carrying out policy or providing confidential advice to senior agency officials—leading House Democrats on civil service issues have asked language be attached to a bill to be considered soon to fund federal agencies past the current cutoff of December 11.

“We write with great urgency to request that the forthcoming continuing resolution or omnibus spending bill include language that reverses the implementation of this executive order and requires the immediate return of any federal employee reclassified pursuant to it,” they told appropriations leaders.

“In addition, if the incoming Biden Administration repeals the executive order in whole or in part, implementing it now would waste significant time and resources as a result of the unnecessary classification and reclassification of thousands of federal employees,” they wrote.

A coalition of two dozen federal employees organizations and good-government groups issued a similar call, saying that “failing to block the EO raises substantial and immediate risks” of firings of experienced career employees for political reasons and their replacement with others hired for the same reasons.

Such messages add pressure to what already had been under discussion as an addition to a “continuing resolution” to continue agency funding. No such bill has yet emerged in Congress. That bill is seen as the “last train out” of this Congress, with numerous attempts made to attach spending and policy riders onto it.

However, the task of enacting such a bill promises to be different due to the short time and pre-existing disputes over policies and funding levels for a host of programs and potential pandemic relief provisions, including a newly drafted plan in the Senate for some $900 billion.

The Trump administration, though, could be expected to threaten to veto any move block the order, which has become one of its major priorities in its waning days. A policy dispute over language related to border wall construction in a similar funding extension measure in late 2018 led to a partial shutdown that lasted into late January 2019.

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