In the final days of his presidency, Donald Trump quietly attempted what might have been his most brazen play yet to reshape the federal government in his image: He issued an executive order giving him the power to fire essentially any civil servant at will.
That attempt was thwarted by the election of Joe Biden. But in laying out a 2024 presidential bid and a White House comeback, Trump has vowed to enact that order again immediately, Axios reported.
Congress has the power to block him—or any other president—from executing those plans. But it’s increasingly looking like they won’t use it.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed legislation to codify civil service protections, with six Republicans joining all Democrats in voting yes. But in the Senate, where 10 GOP senators would be needed to vote in favor, the prospects for the legislation are grim.
For proponents of the bill, their window to change the dynamic is closing rapidly. If either the House or Senate flip to GOP control in this November’s elections—and at least one switch is likely—the bill’s chances of passage would drop dramatically.
That could clear a path for Trump, or any other like-minded president, to assert a level of control over influential policy officials not seen in centuries.
“What you’re talking about is politicizing the civil service and doing away with objective, impartial, nonpartisan government service… in favor of a 2 million-person workforce that is potentially more loyal to a politician than the Constitution,” said Walter Shaub, a former director of the federal Office of Government Ethics who is now a senior fellow at the Project on Government Oversight.
“That,” Shaub said, “should terrify people.” [Continue reading…]