President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE called on Congress during his State of the Union address Tuesday night to give the heads of federal agencies the power to fire federal workers.
“All Americans deserve accountability and respect, and that is what we are giving them,” said Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to dramatically cut the size of the federal government.
“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.
Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told federal agencies in a memo in April “to determine whether their current policies and practices are barriers to hiring and retaining the workforce necessary to execute their missions" and to take action if not, including by "if necessary, removing poor performers.”
The Washington Post reported in December that every Cabinet agency has seen their permanent staff numbers shrink under Trump, with the exception of the departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Interior.
Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) introduced legislation in July to make all new federal workers at-will employees. That change would mean they could be “removed or suspended, without notice or right to appeal, from service by the head of the agency at which such employee is employed for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all,” according to the text of the bill.
This story was updated at 10:01 p.m.