The Trump administration announced a trio of executive orders that will make it easier for federal agencies to fire employees — a move that officials say is aimed at using taxpayer dollars more efficiently and not in response to Trump and his allies' belief that some career officials are purposefully sabotaging his presidency.
Senior administration officials did not give an explicit answer either way when asked if they believed in the so-called deep state. Instead, officials said on a Friday conference call with reporters that the new actions were about "efficient use of government resources."
The president last tweeted about the deep state Wednesday.
The new executive orders will "empower good workers," "advance a merit-based system," and allow federal agencies "to remove poor-performing employees," said Andrew Bremberg, director of domestic policy for the White House.
The orders stem from an announcement in Trump's State of the Union address where he said Congress should “empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people."
Despite Trump including this issue in his wish list to Congress earlier this year, the administration is no longer waiting on lawmakers to take action. "The president called on Congress ... they haven’t done so yet. In the meantime, the president is using all available tools in the executive branch to come as close as he can," a senior administration official said.
The executive orders will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for federal agencies to go through the process of firing a federal employee; reward "performance over seniority"; order agencies to work on renegotiating union contracts and publish them in a database; and require all federal employees to devote at least 75% of their work hours for agency purposes, senior administration officials said. The administration estimates that these actions could save taxpayers at least $100 million a year.
Besides Bremberg's opening statement on the call, White House officials, who repeatedly criticize anonymous sources, told reporters that most of the information had to be attributed to "senior administration officials" only.
American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox Sr. called the executive orders "democracy busting" in a statement. "Our government is built on a system of checks and balances to prevent any one person from having too much influence," Cox said.
"President Trump’s executive orders will undo all of that. This administration seems hellbent on replacing a civil service that works for all taxpayers with a political service that serves at its whim.”