White House to recommend combining Education, Labor departments: report

White House to recommend combining Education, Labor departments: report
© Greg Nash

The White House will recommend merging the departments of Education and Labor as part of an overall reorganization of the federal government, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The proposed merger, which is expected to be unveiled Thursday morning, would mark a significant step toward the Trump administration's goal of decreasing the federal workforce.

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The Education Department, which has already shrunk under the Trump administration, employs around 3,900 people, making it one of the smallest federal agencies. The Labor Department employs roughly 15,000 workers, according to the newspaper.

Officials for the White House and Labor Department declined to comment to the Journal, and the paper could not immediately reach the Education Department for comment.

Lawmakers would have to approve the reorganization, but have demonstrated reluctance for such measures before. 

The merger would be part of a broader effort to reshuffle the federal government. 

Politico reported earlier this month that the administration intends to move welfare programs, like food stamps, into the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The plan could also seek to rename the department, possibly to include “welfare” in the name.

That effort would also require congressional approval, making it less certain it would come to fruition.

HHS did have “welfare” in its title before 1979, when it was known as the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. That year, Congress created the separate Education Department, which was approved by President Carter, and HHS was renamed.

Conservatives have long championed efforts to consolidate the federal government. During the Clinton administration, Republican lawmakers proposed merging the Education and Labor departments.