President Donald Trump is significantly decreasing the size of the federal bureaucracy, a campaign promise he often referred to as “draining the swamp.”
The administration downsized permanent staff at all cabinet-level departments by the end of Sept. 2017, except for at Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs (VA) and Interior, The Washington Post reported Saturday. Hundreds of federal positions have been removed as a result of the administration’s commitment to retool and shed some of the two million federal government employees.
The federal workforce grew sizably under both former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, ballooning from roughly 1.8 million employees in 2000 to 2.14 million at the height of Obama’s presidency.
Trump’s administration is moving at a historically slow pace in filling political positions at federal agencies, whether it be part of his “draining the swamp” promise or a slow movement on the part of the Senate is unclear.
The Senate has only confirmed 240 of the over 600 political appointments that are supposed to help carry out the administration’s agenda.
Agencies the administration has chosen not to shrink do make some sense.
Keeping employment levels higher at Interior, the VA, and Homeland Security is in line with the Trump administration’s “America First” policies, like its push for border security, improving veterans affairs and infrastructure spending, that is already shaping up to be the key legislative agenda of 2018.
Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and GOP leadership are looking to get infrastructure rolling out the gate in January, a goal they believe will get bipartisan support. Infrastructure has been a Democratic campaigning platform for decades, but the party’s leadership is facing heat for failing to get a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals deal done in 2017 — a situation that could prove troubling for Republicans infrastructure push in the coming year.