Federal workers can now feasibly be paid as little as $1 a year, after a surprise move by House Republicans.
In a procedural move Thursday, the House’s Republican caucus revived an arcane procedure known as the “Holman Rule,” first introduced in 1876, that allows for the targeting of specific federal workers or programs.
Under the guise of cutting spending, Congress can lower a worker’s pay or a program’s budget to just $1. However, the rule is unlikely to actually be invoked against any federal employee during the current Congress, as it requires a majority in both the House and Senate to take effect. Any use of the rule would have to be done through an amendment to an appropriations bill
National Treasury Employees Union legislative director Maureen Gilman told the Washington Post that the revival of the Holman Rule was “part of a very chilling theme that federal workers are seeing right now.” Gilman’s union represents roughly 150,000 federal workers.
However, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) told the Post he’s excited about the rule’s resurrection, saying it represents the radical new direction America will be taking under the Trump administration.
“[The Holman Rule] allows people to get at places they hadn’t before,” McCarthy said. “[A]ll agencies should be held accountable and tested in a manner and this is an avenue to allow them to do it.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said the 140-year-old rule is meant to frame ordinary working people for the failings of the incoming Republican administration.
“Republicans have consistently made our hard-working federal employees scapegoats, in my opinion, for lack of performance of the federal government itself,” Hoyer told the Post. “And this rule change will allow them to make shortsighted and ideologically driven changes to our civil service.”
Tom Cahill is a writer for US Uncut based in the Pacific Northwest. He specializes in coverage of political, economic, and environmental news. You can contact him via email at [email protected], or friend him on Facebook.