Let’s honor public service
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE may have campaigned on “draining the swamp” of Washington, D.C. and Americans’ views of Congress may be as low as we’ve ever seen, but now, more than ever, it’s critical that we don’t lose sight of the fact that Americans want a federal government that works efficiently for the country and for them.

That’s why this week is so important, because the Senate will be voting to pass the annual appropriations bill that funds key parts of the federal government and the hundreds of agencies, programs, and initiatives that Americans rely on and benefit from regardless of where they live.

ADVERTISEMENT

I could go on and on about the importance of this legislation – from its support for a host of important federal agencies to the federal judiciary, but there’s a larger point to be made, which is that the federal government is more than a vague entity or a political punching bag – it’s the product of talented, hardworking, honorable public servants who deserve our respect and our gratitude. 

From Army sergeants, federal judges, and CDC researchers to FBI agents, Army Corps engineers, and NASA astronauts, federal employees care about their country and fellow citizens, and they pursue careers in government because they want to better others’ lives.

Once you take a moment to think about the profound impact these professionals have on our country and our lives, it’s easier to see them as an important part of what makes this country great, rather than faceless bureaucrats. But it’s not enough to simply recognize their hard work, sacrifice, and expertise. They also need our support.

So this week, the Senate will be voting on a bipartisan appropriations bill that not only recognizes the vital work that federal employees do each and every day, but also funds the agencies and programs they make possible.

This is particularly important, because for too long, we’ve been doing just the opposite. The number of civilian personnel has stalled over the past five decades, despite the steady growth of the U.S. population, and funding for most agencies has plateaued or dwindled in recent years, making them unable to keep up with growing demands.

As a result, the federal workforce is continually asked to do more with less while being stretched thinner and thinner.

We can do better than that. Rather than continue the self-fulfilling prophecy of an underfunded, ineffective federal government, we can do the opposite and give the federal workforce the resources it needs to succeed. That’s what we’re doing this week in a bipartisan way, and over the long term, it’s a winning formula not just for federal workers, but also for the American people.

It’s easy for politicians to lament the inefficiencies and supposed laziness of the federal bureaucrats, but it’s not rooted in truth. The Partnership for Public service highlights exemplary federal employees every year, and the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of federal workers are committed to effective and responsive government, and they want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Particularly as the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement, it’s more important than ever that we have talented, committed public servants to replace them and keep the federal government vibrant, innovative, and efficient. To do that, Congress has to first provide the resources, but it’s just as important for our country to correctly identify federal employees for what they are: public servants. 

These men and women work to protect American values, equality of opportunity, justice, and the basic tenants of our democracy. They deserve our support, and they deserve our respect. 

Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsJudiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Sunday shows preview: White House officials on offensive in wake of anonymous NY Times op-ed MORE represents Delaware in the United States Senate. He is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Financial Services and General Government.