Twelve conservative leaders, including former Attorney General Ed Meese, CHQ Editor George Rasley, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Representative Bob McEwen and Tea Party Patriots Action Honorary Chairman Jenny Beth Martin are in favor of Congress passing the MERIT Act during the lame duck session.
The group, led by Americans for Limited Government, issued the following statement urging the GOP not to Drain the swampwaste their final weeks in the majority:
“The December spending bill is the last chance for the 115th Congress to do something to limit the size and scope of government. After disappointing decisions to significantly increase government spending levels over the past two years, it is imperative that Congress pass language which expedites the prompt and appropriate firing of federal employees who are either incompetent or don’t perform their assigned duties. The simple truth is that you cannot drain the swamp, unless you can fire the swamp. Currently, it takes years for a substandard federal employee to be removed from their position, a complex and timely process most supervisors do not wish to participate in at all. This leaves the federal government with a termination for cause rate of only .53 percent. The current system incentivizes federal managers to simply ignore poor performers costing taxpayers millions of dollars in salaries, creating a workplace which rewards federal employee wage theft, while penalizing those workers who are attempting to pick up the slack.
“Any appropriations legislation moving toward the president’s desk this month must include the House Oversight and Government Reform language of the MERIT Act as a policy rider. The language of the MERIT Act has already been implemented at the Department of Veterans Affairs and, as a result, increased terminations for cause at the agency by 26 percent. The eight departments affected by this appropriations legislation should see this change as well.
“Good civil servants deserve to work in constructive workplaces and bad civil servants deserve to be dismissed. As conservatives, we see the MERIT Act language as integral to reigning in the out of control federal bureaucracy and restoring accountability to federal civil service.”
The Modern Employment Reform, Improvement, and Transformation (MERIT) Act, H.R. 559, has broad support in the conservative movement. It was selected as FreedomWorks’ Bill of the Month for February 2017 and is cosponsored by House Freedom Caucus members, the bill was introduced by limited government constitutional conservative Rep. Barry Loudermilk (GA-11).
Ultimately, the MERIT Act would make it easier to “drain the swamp” by removing federal employees based on poor performance or misconduct. Frequently, it takes a process stretching more than 300 days to formally discharge a federal employee. According to a 2015 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, only 0.18 percent of the federal workforce was fired for poor performance or bad conduct during the previous year.
Due to the grueling process of terminating employees who are underperforming, it is easier for agencies to keep those employees or move them to different agencies.
The MERIT Act requires a notice in writing to the employee in question by the head of an agency. This bill does provide the employee an opportunity to respond with an appeal, allowing them due process. The Merit Systems Protection Board is required to issue a decision within 30 days of the appeal. If the Merit Systems Protection Board is unable to make a decision within 30 days the removal is final and the board must explain why they were unable to issue a decision.
As our friends at FreedomWorks said in their separate statement of support for the MERIT Act, reining in bureaucracy and decreasing the federal workforce is crucial to the success of limiting federal spending and shrinking government. Currently, employee protections at the federal level are often a safeguard for inadequate employees. It is extremely important that the federal government and employees are held to the highest standards possible.
This bill would respectively give power to remove employees from their role as a civil servant if those standards are not met. In the private sector, employees are held accountable and expected to meet minimum working standards to keep their jobs. It is irresponsible not to support this bill and require the federal government to hold federal employees to minimum working standards as well.
Signers of the statement of support for the MERIT Act include:
The Honorable Edwin Meese III
Former Attorney General
President Ronald Reagan
The Honorable J. Kenneth Blackwell
Constitutional Congress, Inc.
The Honorable Bob McEwen
U.S. House of Representatives
Former Member, Ohio
Jenny Beth Martin
Tea Party Patriots Action
The Honorable George K. Rasley, Jr.
Council for Citizens against Government Waste
Americans for Limited Government
Nations in Action Foundation
Frontiers of Freedom
Director of Governmental Affairs
American Family Association
Former communications director
Senator Jim DeMint
Taxpayer Protection Alliance