Each week, the “Can He Do That?” podcast explores critical questions about what today’s news means for our nation and its highest office. Listen here.
From practically the first day of President Trump’s tenure in office, his administration has aimed to reduce the size of the federal workforce.
“President Trump instituted an immediate hiring freeze Monday, signing a presidential memorandum that would affect a large swath of the executive branch but leave wide latitude for exemptions for those working in the military, national security and public safety,” wrote Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post’s then-White House bureau chief, on Jan. 23, 2017.
“The move — coming on the new president’s first full working day in the White House — represents the opening salvo in what could be the most concerted effort to overhaul the federal workforce in 35 years.”
A year and two months later, the administration continues its efforts to downsize the government. Its proposed budget plan, released last month, includes dramatic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department. But so far, the game-changing overhaul hasn’t happened.
What’s the holdup?
“I think that there’s fundamental confusion among both the general public, but even people who work in the government, about how the federal budget process works,” says Romina Boccia of the Heritage Foundation in this week’s episode of “Can He Do That?”
“People tend to get very scared when the president’s budget comes out, but they pay much less attention to the congressional budgets — even though those are much more important,” Boccia adds. “And in the United States, it’s the president’s budget that’s really the least relevant of all of the budgets.”
This week’s episode of the podcast takes a look at the appropriations process, and why, for the first time since the beginning of the Trump administration, there’s finally an opportunity for a radical restructuring of the government.
But Trump’s plans to aggressively winnow the size and scope of federal agencies may prove tough to implement.
“I think I can say with high confidence that this will be more complicated than the president has outlined,” Eilperin says.