Kaine slams Trump attempts to make it easier to fire federal employees

Kaine slams Trump attempts to make it easier to fire federal employees
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Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineDemocrats protest Trump's immigration policy from Senate floor Koch group won't back Stewart in Virginia Kaine shares photos of child detention facility: ‘The real Trump Hotel’ MORE (D-Va.) railed against President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN analyst Kirsten Powers: Melania's jacket should read 'Let them eat cake' CNN's Cuomo confronts Lewandowski over 'womp womp' remark Sessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance MORE on Monday for calling on Congress late last month to give agency heads the power to fire federal employees.

“I don’t want to give a power-hungry president an easier hand to sack people that are doing their jobs because he’s worried that them doing their jobs may cause him to have to be accountable,” he told a ballroom of federal workers on the second day of the American Federation of Government Employee’s (AFGE) annual legislative and grass-roots mobilization conference. 

During his State of the Union address on Jan. 30, Trump praised the VA Accountability Act — a law he signed last year to make it easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fire employees accused of misconduct — and called for similar powers to be extended to all agencies.

“So tonight, I call on the Congress to 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,” he said.

Kaine said Monday he wasn’t surprised by Trump’s remarks.  

“I’ll tell you what I thought as I was sitting there: There is the guy trying to fire people for their political disloyalty, who’s asking them, 'Are you on my team or not?', who is threatening to end a special investigation, who’s already fired an FBI director, who’s already sacked the deputy attorney general,” he said. 

“He wants to make it easier to fire people. Well, of course he does. Of course he wants to make it easier to fire people because he’s worried that people’s loyalty may be to the Constitution and not to him.”

A Republican proposal has been introduced in the House to make all new federal workers at-will employees, but Kaine told The Hill the good news is the measure would need 60 votes to pass the Senate. 

“Even under the current composition, as long as the Democrats would resist efforts like that, we would be able to block them,” he said, referring to the Republican’s slim 51-49 hold on the majority. 

The largest union representing federal and D.C. government workers contends the civil service is under attack by the Trump administration and Republican-controlled Congress following a hiring freeze, two government shutdowns and efforts to expand the VA Accountability Act to the Department of Labor.

And AFGE spent Monday morning rallying the troops for a fight.  

“They are trying to suck the lifeblood out of the civil service by taking the horrific VA unaccountability law and extending it to the Department of Labor and spreading it like a cancer to the rest of the federal government and to that we don’t say 'no,' we say 'hell no,'” AFGE National President J. David Cox said in a fiery speech. 

“We’re not going to stand by and allow that to happen.”

Cox's profanity-laden speech had workers jumping to their feet and chanting "AFGE." 

"What's happening is the rise of what I call the leach class ... they just sucked $1.5 trillion out of the U.S. Treasury through a tax cut that mostly benefits corporations and the wealthy of the wealthies," he said. 

"I hate to tell every one of you, you're not going to see one dime of that tax cut y'all and the one thing that worries me is they'll be coming after our pay and benefits as a pay-for in the future and by damn, I plan to kick their ass when they show up touching our pay and our benefits."

AFGE is calling for a 3 percent pay increase for federal workers in 2019, but Trump released a budget proposal Monday that foregoes an across-the-board pay raise for workers next year. It instead proposes to realign incentives by enhancing performance-based pay and slowing the frequency of tenure-based step increases.