Democratic senators introduce bill to protect federal workers’ rights

Six Democratic senators introduced a bill Tuesday to protect the rights of federal workers.

The Preventing a Patronage System Act (PPSA) is aimed at shielding career federal employees from administration changes, preventing administrations from replacing federal workers with their own appointees for reasons unrelated to merit without congressional approval. 

The bill’s Democratic sponsors are California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, and Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, according to a Tuesday release from Feinstein’s office.

“These career federal employees must be protected from politics so they can do their jobs,” Feinstein said in a statement following the bill’s introduction.

The lawmakers said their proposal is a response to a 2020 executive order signed by former President Trump and repealed by President Biden last year, before it could take effect. 

Trump’s order would have made “an exception to competitive hiring rules” for the federal service, according to the 2020 document, and would have allowed agency leaders to assess potential appointees’ “ability to meet the particular needs of the agency” outside the confines of the competitive hiring process. 

The Democratic lawmakers proposing the PPSA said that would strip many federal workers of job protections and due process rights, making it easier for administrations to replace them with political loyalists.

“This common-sense legislation will ensure the integrity of our merit-based civil service system and safeguard it from being used as a political punching bag,” Van Hollen said in a statement.

Cardin said in a statement, “Our career, non-partisan public sector workforce is one of our nation’s greatest assets. The last thing we need is for a president to fire dedicated and experienced public servants and replace them with sycophants and grifters without the skills to carry out the functions of government within the rule of law.”