House Republicans voted to reinstate a rule that allows the government to pay employees as little as $1 in an attempt to cut bureaucracy.
The Holman Rule, passed by the House last week as part of a wider package of reforms, allows congressmen to propose amendments to government spending targeting specific government employees and their rate of pay.
All amendments to the pay of government employees would need approval by a majority in both the House and the Senate. Republicans currently control both chambers.
The rule could have a positive effect on the rising levels of federal bureaucracy, with civil servants now aware their jobs are subject to the scrutiny of elected officials.
Democrats have expressed concern over the revival of the rule, arguing it will reduce the security of the federal workforce, especially given Donald Trump’s promise to make government more accountable to the people by “draining the swamp” of Washington bureaucracy.
“Republicans have consistently made our hard-working federal employees scapegoats, in my opinion, for lack of performance of the federal government itself,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) in a speech on the house floor.
“And this rule change will allow them to make shortsighted and ideologically driven changes to our civil service,” he continued.
Maureen Gilman, legislative director for the National Treasury Employees Union, also described it as “part of a very chilling theme that federal workers are seeing right now.”
During his presidential campaign, Trump promised to introduce a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through a process of attrition, with the exemption of the military, public safety, and public health.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) defended the amendment, which he described as “big rule change that [will allow] people to get at places they hadn’t before.”
McCarthy continued, “All agencies should be held accountable and tested in a manner and this is an avenue to allow them to do it.”