Trump named Sanders, who also served under the Bush administration, to the position in December 2017. The advisory group is responsible for providing recommendations to the White House on how best to tailor federal pay depending on regional costs of living.
The executive order, issued Wednesday, stripped job protections for many federal workers in a move that unions and Democrats denounced as an attempt to politicize the civil service.
Agencies are required to place any worker responsible for the handling of policy — a number that one union leader said could be hundreds of thousands — under a new category, called Schedule F, by Jan. 19, the day before the presidential inauguration.
These include “positions of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character” that are “not normally subject to change as a result of a Presidential transition,” including those who supervise attorneys or report to presidential appointees, the order reads.
Employees under the new schedule will be exempt from some hiring and firing protections, making it easier for them to be taken on and dismissed. Agencies must also “expeditiously petition” the Federal Labor Relations Authority to remove the positions in question from any bargaining unit, preventing union participation.
The White House labeled the order as a move toward efficiency, speeding the removal of what the order dubbed “poor performers.”
But critics say that, if Trump wins reelection on Nov. 3, the change would make it easier to remove civil servants who do not agree with the administration’s policies. If he loses, it could, in theory, make it easier for political appointees to transition into civil servant roles — allowing them to stay beyond the transition.
Sanders, who described himself as a lifelong Republican, said he cannot be part of an administration that seeks “to replace apolitical expertise with political obeisance. Career Federal employees are legally and duty-bound to be nonpartisan; they take an oath to preserve and protect our Constitution and the rule of law…not to be loyal to a particular President or Administration,” he wrote.