Former Vice President and current Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence participates in the first debate of the primary season on August 23.

Former Vice President and current Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence participates in the first debate of the primary season on August 23. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Pence ‘Day 1’ plan includes a telework rollback, spending freeze and ban on gender affirming care

The former vice president and Republican presidential candidate on Tuesday unveiled a laundry list of executive actions he would take immediately upon assuming office to reverse the Biden administration’s policies.

Former Vice President and current Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence on Tuesday said that if elected, he would immediately end Biden-era telework policies, institute a spending freeze for non-defense federal agencies and ban all federal funding of gender affirming care for minors. The proposals were part of a laundry list of executive actions Pence said he would undertake on his first day in the White House.

The former vice president remains a distant fifth place for the Republican presidential nomination at 4.5%, according to FiveThirtyEight’s national polling average. Former President Trump retains a commanding lead in the race at 49.9%, based on FiveThirtyEight's polls.

“President Biden weakened us at home and he weakened our place in the world,” Pence said. “With all humility, I believe I’m the most qualified, best prepared candidate in this field, and we will be ready on Day One to move policies that will turn this country around, and our Day One executive action plan is an attempt to lay out a vision for those initial actions we believe will begin to set our nation right.”

First, Pence vowed to reverse an automatic 1% decrease in defense spending that would take hold if lawmakers cannot reach a full-year appropriations deal by May 2024 and, conversely, freeze non-defense spending, which he argued has contributed to inflation. However, inflation has been on the decline since last fall.

“We’ll get runaway spending under control by freezing non-defense federal spending on Day One of my administration,” he said. “We’ll also reverse all of the Biden administration’s energy executive orders and unleash American energy and open up access to all of America’s reserves and through leasing programs for oil and natural gas.”

Pence also suggested that he would roll back the telework policies developed during the COVID-19 pandemic and continued during the Biden administration, saying he would “end work from home for federal workers.” Pence’s plan was light on details, however.

“Americans around the country have gotten back to work since the pandemic ended and are working to get this economy moving again,” his campaign wrote in a blog post Tuesday. “Meanwhile, federal employees are still working from home at record rates . . . Federal bureaucrats should be working just as hard as the American workers they are supposedly serving. That’s why President Pence will issue an executive order to get federal employees back to work immediately.”

A number of proposals Pence revealed Tuesday on health care issues could also have ramifications for federal workers. The former vice president said he would end policies within the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments aimed at preserving federal workers’ and veterans’ access to abortions, as well as end the Justice Department’s work in support of litigation challenging state abortion bans. And he said the federal government would cease funding of programs that help transgender minors receive gender-affirming care.

“I would end any funding—direct or indirect—for child transgender procedures anywhere in the United States, and we would block funding to schools that promote child transgender chemical or physical procedures. We simply have got to protect our kids from the radical gender agenda of the American left, as well as reinstate protections for religious groups of any persuasion in federal contracting.”

Once again, the details of Pence’s plan remained vague, but such a measure could endanger federal workers and their families’ access to gender affirming care through their employer-sponsored insurance, the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

“Today, the Department of Health and Human Services’ official guidance to medical providers states that ‘early gender affirming care is crucial to overall health,’ ” the Pence campaign wrote. “President Pence will reverse these misguided policies on Day One and make it clear that government health agencies will never advocate for radical transgender ideology. President Pence will also issue executive orders directing all agencies to defund any programs that accept federal money and provide surgical or chemical gender reassignment on children in the U.S. or around the world.”

Transgender advocates argue that conservatives vastly overestimate the number of people receiving gender affirming care, and in fact, the process to gain access to treatments is often long and arduous.

Notably absent from Pence’s Day One agenda is any mention of a systematic effort to make it easier to fire federal workers or target the so-called “deep state,” such as Schedule F, an abortive effort at the end of the Trump administration to make federal workers in policy-related positions effectively at-will employees. Both Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have said they would reinstitute the proposal immediately upon taking office, and the Heritage Foundation has endorsed the idea as part of its 1,000-page presidential transition handbook.