What do you do when the federal employees hired to implement the policies of the duly elected President of the United States not only refuse to do so, but participate in a partisan witch hunt designed to unseat him?
Under current law, not much. Former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovich is resting comfortably somewhere in a State Department office. Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman is still prowling around the White House complex taking selfies in front of what could be presumed to be his office door, and George Kent is skulking around the bowels of the Foggy Bottom State Department headquarters.
How can this be, you ask?
They are all civil servants, and as a result the process for firing a civil servant is long, arduous and frankly so time consuming as to make it barely worthwhile.
In 2017, Americans for Limited Government began calling for the MERIT Act which allows for an expedited process to fire recalcitrant, incompetent or lazy federal employees. Unfortunately, it has not yet passed, but after the public display of arrogance and outright contempt for the policies of the elected President of the United States, the passage of the bill has never been more important and the funding bill that is under consideration provides the perfect vehicle for enacting it.
The MERIT Act language mirrors the Veteran’s Administration reform bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in 2017. As readers will likely remember, the VA was literally leaving veterans to die waiting in line to see a doctor, and the national outrage forced the Democrats to allow passage of a reform that allowed rapid personnel changes. And the VA has seen some real change. In 2017 alone, the firing of VA employees jumped by 27 percent, and overall, the VA has relieved 8,000 people of their duties.
It is time to apply the VA expedited personnel firing law to the rest of the federal government, and the best way to get it done is to add the language to the federal government appropriations bill which is under on-going discussion.
The greatest threat to our Republic is not a foreign invader, but instead is an out of control administrative state which believes that their thoughts supersede those of the elected officials. Given that it is extraordinarily difficult to fire this permanent governing class, they have the ability to delay and out weight Cabinet Secretary’s and even Presidents.
Over the past six years, we have witnessed the permanent FBI sub-leadership engage in illegal activity designed to take down President Trump. We have seen Lois Lerner and others within the IRS run a political targeting operation against those perceived to be opponents of President Obama. And in the Ukraine-inspired impeachment sham, we have heard first-hand the voices of contempt for the vote of the people.
It is time to rebalance the system by allowing these recalcitrant, incompetent or lazy employees to be fired in a timely manner if, and only if, there is cause. Perhaps this impeachment fail will lead to some good, and the MERIT Act, S1898, sponsored by Senator David Perdue of Georgia, will gain steam, as legislative anger swells over the administrative state attempted coup which America has witnessed.
While the MERIT Act is not the full answer to the challenges posed by an administrative state which demands fealty by those who are elected to govern, the simple truth is that you cannot drain the swamp unless you can fire the swamp.
Rick Manning is the President of Americans for Limited Government.