Trump Lifts Government Jobs Freeze, But More Cuts In Store For Some Agencies

Tom O’Connor

President Donald Trump was set to end Wednesday his two-month freeze on hiring new federal workers, but his administration emphasized that a number of empty posts would not be filled and that major cuts were in store for areas of government not favored by the White House.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House' Office of Management and Budget, told reporters Tuesday that lifting the stay did "not mean the agencies will be free to hire willy-nilly” and that the administration was planning more specific restrictions that target certain departments. Trump had promised to streamline the federal government during his presidential campaign and signed an executive order on his first full day in office in January preventing all government agencies from hiring new employees, excluding certain positions dealing with national security or military. Mulvaney said the previous ban would be followed by a new, more detailed one.

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“What we’re doing tomorrow is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that we put into place on day one in office and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan,” Mulvaney said, according to The Hill

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White House Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speaks about of President Donald Trump's budget in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, March 16, 2017. Mulvaney announced the administration would end a two-month halt on hiring for federal agencies, but that some departments would see additional limits and cuts, April 11, 2017. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Mulvaney hinted at which agencies Trump would bolster and which he would scale back. The administration would grant the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs additional funds and the ability to hire again. Other departments, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, would continue to face limitations and, eventually, cuts by the White House. The changes reflect Trump's 2018 fiscal budget plan that was announced last month, which proposed deep spending cuts alongside a military budget boost. 

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"EPA is returning to its core statutory mission, and focusing on greater value and results. EPA will partner with the states and tribes to ensure a thoughtful approach is used to maximize resources to protect our air, land and water.  And, we will work with EPA staff to effectively use every taxpayer dollar that we are entrusted," the Environmental Protection Agency told Newsweek in an emailed statement Wednesday.

"The guidance from OMB applies to all federal agencies, and the Defense Department's approach is still being developed. We will keep you updated when more information is available," the Defense Department wrote Wednesday in a statement emailed to Newsweek.

The Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Veterans Affairs were not immediately available for comment.

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"This is a big part of draining the swamp,” Mulvaney said at Tuesday's press conference in reference to Trump's pledge to reform the government, according to The New York Times. "This is a centerpiece to his campaign."

Trump's electoral promise to reduce the size of the federal government, especially in areas such as environment and education, was accompanied by his vow to increase jobs in the private sector. Trump told business leaders Tuesday that the administration had created 600,000 jobs since the president took office on January 20. The figure appeared to conflict, however, with preliminary figures released by the Department of Labor that showed a total of 317,000 additional jobs in the two full months that Trump has been in office. The number rose to 533,000 if the administration considered the full month of January, although Trump took office Jan. 20.

Trump also said he would create 25 million jobs within the next decade and that his policies would lead to an additional 208,333 jobs each month, higher than the current average of about 178,000 jobs per month.

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