Remember last month when I talked about the Trump transition team being very, very interested in the identities of any Department of Energy employees that helped shape the Obama administration's climate change policies?
When I said that the Trump administration's official position on climate change is that it's a best bad science to be eliminated and at worst a dangerous hoax, either way Trump was going to claim that Obama cost the nation billions and that this "government waste" was always going to be purged.
The problem for Trump and the GOP was that they couldn't just blanket fire people. Civil service has long-standing legal protections against political pogroms like this. But it seems Republicans in Congress may have just found the solution they've been waiting for.
House Republicans this week reinstated an arcane procedural rule that enables lawmakers to reach deep into the budget and slash the pay of an individual federal worker — down to a $1 — a move that threatens to upend the 130-year-old civil service.
The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to offer an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets a specific government employee or program.
A majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment, but opponents and supporters agree that it puts agencies and the public on notice that their work is now vulnerable to the whims of elected officials.
Democrats and federal employee unions say the provision, which one called the “Armageddon Rule,” could prove disastrous to the federal workforce, when combined with president-elect Donald Trump’s criticism of the Washington bureaucracy, his call for a freeze on government hiring and his nomination of Cabinet secretaries who seem to be at odds with the mission of the agencies they would lead.
“This is part of a very chilling theme that federal workers are seeing right now,” said Maureen Gilman, legislative director for the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal employees.
In other words, Republicans can't fire hundreds of thousands of federal government employees, that's illegal. But what they can do is reduce their yearly salaries to one dollar and wait for them to quit on their own accord.
But why go through all this trouble? Very simple: To hurt blue states with lots of federal employees and push them towards being red states. Places like say, Maryland and Virginia.
The rule is particularly troubling to Virginia and Maryland lawmakers and the District’s nonvoting delegate, who represent large numbers of federal workers in the national capital region.
The Holman provision was approved Tuesday as part of a larger rules package but received little attention amid the chaos of Republicans’ failed effort to decimate the House ethics office on the first day of the new Congress.
Oh. Suddenly tens of thousands of Northern Virginia and Maryland federal employees, many unionized, have their salaries arbitrarily cut to $1. You want to talk about destroying the local economy? People would flee in droves. And guess what? A lot of these workers and their families are 1) people of color and 2) die-hard Democrats.
The Holman rule would obliterate the region, and the GOP knows it.
Would you want to rock the boat when Congress could cut your salary to $1 at any time? Would you want to stay in your job knowing that? Would you want to move to the capital region and take a job as a federal employee knowing that?
Oh, and if you think this would only be used against Virginia and Maryland federal employees, remember the state with the most federal employees is of course California. There's little chance that going after tens of thousands of federal employees in the Golden State would do much to affect voting there, but it certainly would make a difference in Virginia and Maryland.
Trump's GOP will be worse than anyone can imagine, folks. This will be used to decimate communities and entire government agencies.