Congressman Smith Statement on President Trump’s Indiscriminate Federal Hiring Freeze

Congressman Smith released the following statement in response to President Trump’s executive order calling for a hiring freeze of federal workers:

January 26, 2017

“President Trump has failed to show that he understands the difference between a presidential campaign and the serious business of governing. To solve the challenging problems the President will undoubtedly face, he should review the facts, as well as engage in pragmatic conversation and thoughtful debate. President Trump’s current approach to governance, reliant on gimmicks and sound bites, seems doomed to fail from the beginning.

“Any successful government or business leader understands that forcing indiscriminate cuts and hiring freezes on no merits-- other than to fulfill a misguided campaign promise-- is the wrong approach. This across-the-board hiring freeze only serves to undermine the efficiency and effectiveness of our Federal government, create uncertainty for our economy, and impose untold impacts on both Washington state and the country.

“This incredibly short-sighted move to bar federal hiring will have an enormous impact on the care of our nation’s veterans, denying them access to essential care and resources. As recently as this past fall, the Department of Veterans Affairs had a staggering 45,000 job openings nationwide. With an average of more than 20 veterans taking their own lives each day, President Trump has decided to slam the door shut on critical mental health care providers, physicians, and other staff from being hired to help former service members get the care they need. The VA Puget Sound Healthcare System in Seattle is not spared from this, and is still without a permanent director for the foreseeable future.  This rash move is an embarrassment.

“As if to justify the freeze, the Trump Administration has alluded to a dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years. In reality, the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms a very different set of facts. In December 2016, there were 2.8 million employees on the federal payroll. This is a 3 percent increase since May 2014. In comparison, the total civilian workforce, excluding federal employees, grew by about 4.9 percent between May 2014 and December 2016. In truth, the number of federal employees is approximately the same now, 2.8 million, as the number when President Barack Obama took office, 2.79 million. Even under the Administration of Republican President Ronald Reagan, federal employment never dipped as low as it is today. Mr. Trump should check the veracity of his talking points.”