House Republicans Introduce Bill to Help Trump's Reorganization

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is one of the lawmakers who introduced the bill. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is one of the lawmakers who introduced the bill. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Three Republican lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would grant President Trump the authority to reorganize the federal government, despite actions by Congress to limit the White House’s ability to overhaul agencies.

Reps. Jody Hice, R-Ga.; Mark Meadows, R-N.C.; and Paul Mitchell, R-Minn., have filed the 2018 Reforming Government Act (H.R. 6787). The measure is a companion bill to legislation introduced in June by Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and James Lankford, R-Okla., which provides a pathway for White House reorganizations to be considered by Congress.

“For decades, the federal government has operated under conditions that would be unacceptable in any other line of work,” said Hice in a statement. “Bureaucracy is out of control, and efficiency is nearly nonexistent. My bill would unlock a mechanism for the Trump administration to present plans to restructure our outdated system of federal agencies to Congress. In order to streamline our government and save valuable taxpayer dollars, we must enable a system of good governance focused on results rather than the same burdensome, ineffective approach.”

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Under the legislation, the White House would be required to submit to Congress formal proposals from its reorganization plan, which included 32 proposals to reshape agencies, at which point lawmakers would have 90 days to approve them. Absent congressional action, those plans would not move forward.

Since the Trump administration issued the reorganization plan, there has been little progress. Major proposals, like shifting direct aid programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program from the Agriculture Department to the Health and Human Services Department, have not been formally introduced either by the administration or lawmakers. And although the Office of Personnel Management has begun planning how it could shift much of its administrative responsibilities to the General Services Administration, lawmakers have pushed back at the idea, which also would move what remained of OPM into the Executive Office of the President.

Last week, Congress followed up on months of criticism of the reorganization plan, formally blocking some of the provisions of the proposal as part of a fiscal 2019 funding bill for the Energy and Veterans Affairs departments, as well as other agencies.

Among the ideas officially panned are an effort to strip the Army Corps of Engineers of its Civil Works division and give those responsibilities to the Transportation Department. The funding bill states that “no funds provided in this act or any previous act to any agency shall be used to implement this proposal.”

The spending package also nixes several plans to reorganize aspects of the Energy Department. And in a minibus bill that remains in conference committee, both the House and Senate included language barring the OPM-GSA restructuring from moving forward.

Although the Senate version of the bill supporting the reorganization was introduced in June, it has yet to receive a public hearing or markup.

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