Fortunately for the United States, a Democrat sits in the Oval Office and the Democratic Party maintains leadership of both chambers of Congress. Rather than rest on the laurels of past elections and only tackle today’s problems, Democrats have also been using the time they have to try to protect America’s democracy against what Republicans dream of doing in the event they regain power.
“Schedule F” may sound like some innocent wonkish term, but it stands for what could have been—and still one day could be—a GOP-induced nightmare. Every top Republican presidential contender for the 2024 election has indicated a willingness to use Schedule F, so rather than wait to see how the election goes, Democratic lawmakers are fighting that battle now.
On October 21, 2020, just before Trump lost the election to Joe Biden, Trump signed an executive order (“Creating Schedule F In The Excepted Service”) that empowered him to convert some 50,000 federal employees to Schedule F status, then replace them with people he believed would be loyal. Fortunately, given the turmoil of Trump’s final months in office, Trump never followed through.
Within days of his inauguration, President Biden slammed Schedule F as “unnecessary” and as having “undermined the foundations of the civil service and its merit system principles.” Biden issued a new executive order (“Protecting the Federal Workforce”) to reverse Trump’s order, rather than use it to install his own loyalists.
In August, Trump signaled his intention to revive Schedule F, MAGAsplaining to a crowd at Turning Point USA’s “Student Action Summit” in Tampa that “to drain the swamp, we have to fire the swamp.” GOP presidential hopefuls Mike Pompeo, Ted Cruz, Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio, Rick Scott, and Josh Hawley promptly went on record expressing their support.
Democrats have introduced bills that would bar any administration from creating a class of federal jobs that can escape well established checks and balances on the nation’s civil service employees. On Thursday, their bill passed in the House, 225-204, with the support of six Republicans. The next hurdle is in the Senate, where passage is uncertain.
You can count on Republicans to keep pushing anti-democratic ideas like Schedule F, just as you can trust Democrats to be proactive in trying to thwart Republicans from the moment they begin salivating. Let’s help the Democrats in this critical effort by making sure to vote in the midterm elections.