Mariel Saez, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in opposition to H.R. 4031, a piece of legislation that removes civil service protections. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this. I urge my Members to vote against it. I don't know if they will, but I urge them to do so. All of us in this body need to be for accountability. None of us in this body, however, ought to be for turning a civil service system into a patronage system. None of us ought to be for turning a civil service system, one of the best in the world, if not the best in the world, into a system which allows for no reason that needs to be articulated to turn senior executives into at-will employees.
“I'm disappointed that this bill has been brought to the Floor with little notice and no markup in Committee. We talk about considered judgment. We talk about thoughtfulness. We talk about reading the bills. And then we bring them to the Floor without [a markup].
“We must ensure that those who serve our veterans in the VA system do so with accountability and oversight. All of us are outraged at the allegations that have been made. Not one of us should step back and say we should not respond vigorously to the offenses that have allegedly taken place. Because, if the allegations are true, heads ought to roll. Period.
“But that's not what this legislation is about. This legislation is about a knee-jerk reaction to a bad situation painted with a very broad, broad brush – and undermining a system that can work, has worked, and has the mechanism to work. I cannot support this bill as written. I believe it opens the door to a slippery slope of undoing the careful civil service protections that have been in place for decades.
“This is about due process. Now due process is put under stress at critical times. Pursuing due process at times when there is no stress is not difficult. The test of a society is whether, at times of stress, it can follow due process and the law. This bill does not provide for that. Protections that have been put in place for decades to ensure politically appointed managers cannot fire non-political senior executives in federal service without proper cause. Neither party ought to be for that. The civil service reforms adopted decades ago were there for a purpose. As a result, Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition and urge my colleagues to vote against this premature and not-thought-out piece of legislation.”