Trump officials threaten to furlough 150 workers at federal personnel agency

The Trump administration has indicated it could furlough or eventually lay off 150 employees at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency tasked with managing the federal workforce.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE included a reorganization of OPM in each of his last two budget proposals, and administration officials have asserted that the need to address a funding shortfall at the agency could soon affect staff.

"We continue to work with Congress to find a solution and sustainable path forward that avoids unacceptable impacts to the staff at OPM," Jacob Wood, a spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget, told The Hill. "Unfortunately, issues of funding and appropriations law leave OPM with few options.

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"It is our sincere hope that Congress helps us find a way to address the funding gap created by their decision to move a major funding source away from OPM," Wood said.

Legislation passed in 2017 moved the majority of government background checks from OPM to the Department of Defense. Trump signed an executive order earlier this year shifting all background checks to the Department of Defense. 

OPM faced intense scrutiny after a data breach at the agency in 2015 exposed personal information of roughly 21.5 million federal workers.

The Washington Post first reported Wednesday that an internal document shows the administration is preparing to begin furloughing employees on Oct. 1 if Congress blocks an effort to eliminate the agency and redistribute its duties. Those furloughed OPM employees could then be formally laid off after 30 days, the Post reported.

Margaret Weichert, the acting OPM director, told the Post that the administration would not wait if Congress doesn't take action to address issues with the agency.

"We believe a legislative solution would be the most straightforward answer,” Weichert said. "But we’ve made it very clear we can’t wait without action."

Congress has not formally signaled whether it will block the disbanding of the agency, but the administration reportedly wants a commitment by June 30.

The Post reported in April that Trump appointees were moving to dismantle the agency, which is responsible for roughly 2.1 million employees. The agency's responsibilities would be distributed among other departments, including the Office of Management and Budget and General Services Administration.

Trump's first head of OPM, Jeff Pon, left after just seven months on the job. Weichert has been serving on an acting basis since then.

In March, Trump nominated longtime Republican official Dale Cabaniss to serve as the director of federal personnel. He received a committee hearing in May, but has yet to receive a confirmation vote. 

Updated 5:23 p.m.