White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney boasted earlier this month about the number of federal employees who quit their jobs after the Trump administration moved U.S. Department of Agriculture research jobs to the Kansas City area.
At a South Carolina event, Mulvaney said the relocations are part of what the administration is “actually doing” to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C., according to video of the event posted by GovExec.com.
The administration announced in June that it planned to relocate the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to a new office in the Kansas City area by the end of September. Employees had until July 15 to decide whether to accept relocation orders and move.
“Guess what happened? More than half the people quit,” Mulvaney said at the Republican Party event.
He talked about the difficulty in firing federal workers and characterized the number of people who will quit as a victory.
“Now, it’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker. I know that because a lot of them work for me and I’ve tried and you can’t do it,” Mulvaney said. “But simply saying to people, you know what, we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside the Beltway, outside this liberal haven of Washington, D.C., and move you out in the real part of the country – and they quit. What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”
Maryland and Virginia lawmakers fought the move in an attempt to save their constituents’ jobs.
“We remain concerned that this restructuring will gut the ability of these agencies to successfully carry out their important missions,” eight of Maryland’s Democratic lawmakers wrote in a July 16 letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. “We also remain concerned that the quality of work at ERS and NIFA has already been undermined and will continue to degrade”
The administration has said the move will put researchers in closer proximity to the nation’s farming communities and result in cost savings to taxpayers.