Bipartisan Bill Seeks to End Political ‘Burrowing’

Legislation would create cooling off period to prevent appointees from moving into career positions

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., co-sponsored legislation to end the process of political “burrowing,” in which political appointees take career positions in the federal government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan duo’s legislation to prevent political appointees from receiving career positions in the federal government moves to the Senate after passing the House on Tuesday.

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California and Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado introduced The Political Appointee Burrowing Prevention Act, which was approved by a voice vote.

The legislation includes a two-year “cooling off” period for political appointees before they can take a career position, Government Executive reported.

“If we really want to drain the swamp in Washington, then we must end this practice of political burrowing,” Buck said. “Political appointees have the privilege of advancing their appointing president’s agenda for a period of time, but when the president leaves, they have a duty to Americans to step aside, as well.”

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“This bill ensures that agencies hire career civil servants that are the most qualified, not the most politically connected,” he said.

After the two years, the head of an agency would submit a letter to the Office of Personnel Management to explain the hiring, the Greeley Tribune in Buck’s district reported.

Despite supporting moving the bill forward, Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia voiced some objections to the legislation, saying it would make it more difficult to hire political appointees.

“And it would add significant hurdles to agencies seeking to hire an applicant who separated from their political appointment within the last five years, requiring them to certify that it is necessary for an agency to meet its mission,” the Democrat said. “But several controls are already in place to ensure the process used to hire people is fair, open and based on merit.”

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