Congressman Roger Williams

Representing the 25th District of Texas

Federal hiring freeze: Longer waits, unemployment lines for some Texans

Feb 10, 2017
In The News

U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis

“It is always prudent to pursue efficiencies and potential cost-saving improvements in the federal workforce,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, whose district includes part of Arlington. “We have many dedicated and able federal employees in Texas, and we should always look for better ways to utilize their skill sets.”

More than that, he and others say, the hiring freeze is just temporary and will just last for a total of three months.

“Congressman Williams has said since he first ran for Congress that the size of government is growing too big, while our economy is not recovering quickly enough,” said Vince Zito, communications director for Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, whose district stretches from the edges of Tarrant County through Austin.

“Rep. Williams supports shrinking the size of government and using that money to help our veterans, rebuild our military and reimburse the taxpayers.”

Impacted Texans

Edwards — who grew up in Irving, where his mom still lives — said he realizes how lucky he was.

First he was frustrated because he didn’t get the job he had accepted, and had turned down other interviews and job offers after landing the position in Port Aransas.

Then he was so grateful for the help he received from Veasey’s office and the National Parks Service liaison in regaining the job, which is part of the government’s Pathways Internship Program.

Fortunately, he and his wife had enough savings that the job delay didn’t wipe them out financially. And he learned that he really did have a job after all right before his daughter Elena Catherine was born.

“It has been a whirlwind of emotions,” he said. “We’ve gone from the lowest to lows to getting what amounts to a dream job. Then our child was born.

Cody Edwards, who was told he lost his job because of the federal hiring freeze

“My wife and I shed a few tears,” Edwards said. “It worked out — thank God.”

Countless other North Texans may be directly impacted.

At the Naval Air Station, for instance, officials say they don’t have a total of how many jobs will remain vacant because of the hiring freeze. They do note that some positions will be exempt because of public safety and national security needs.

Jobs openings at the base are still being advertised online at usajobs.gov. Anyone hired before Jan. 22 with a “confirmed start date” for no later than Feb. 22 should head to work on their assigned day, said Karin Krause, a spokeswoman for the base.

But any positions where new hires didn’t have that confirmed start date will be reviewed and possibly revoked.

“NAS JRB Fort Worth’s mission is national security, and our entire civilian workforce contributes to the accomplishment of that national security mission,” Krause said. “However, the Secretary of Defense has determined that implementing these temporary hiring limitations ensures that our workforce is aligned to our highest priorities, and resources are allocated in a manner that promotes effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars.”

The freeze

Trump on Jan. 23 implemented an immediate hiring freeze to stop efforts to fill vacancies, including seasonal jobs, at federal agencies throughout the country.

Some jobs involving national security, the military and public safety were exempted, as well as some posts at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Other posts exempted include those focusing on cybersecurity, nuclear reactors, contingency planning and treaty enforcement.

Trump indicated that his three-month hiring freeze, which was mentioned in his “Contract with the American Voter,” is geared to keep the federal government from swelling before his budget director can put forward a plan to reduce the number of federal employees across the country.

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents federal workers across the country, including those in the local chapter that serves employees of Fort Worth and North Texas.

But some federal workers say they are already understaffed.

“The whole premise of the hiring freeze is that there are too many federal workers,” said Kevin Tinker, an immigration service officer and president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3377. “We’ve always been too little for too much work. We’ve been overworked and overstressed and the premise is wrong.

“We’re trying to do our best to get the work done and we need more employees, not less.”

Trump’s memo asked that workers “seek efficient use of existing personnel and funds to improve public services and the delivery of these services.”

It also stated that the hiring freeze “does not prohibit making reallocations to meet the highest priority needs and to ensure that essential services are not interrupted and national security is not affected.”

The number of federal jobs in Tarrant County has dropped through the year in every period since the fourth quarter of 2013, BLM statistics show.

“The American people rely on the work that federal workers do to protect our food, medicines, our air and water, to safeguard our nuclear weapons and our economy, to assist the most vulnerable senior citizens and young children, and to ensure taxpayers have the help they need,” said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents federal workers across the country, including those in the local chapter that serves employees in Fort Worth and North Texas.

“Empty desks, dormant computers and ringing telephones don’t deliver vital public services and safeguard our nation,” he said in a statement to the Star-Telegram. “Federal workers do.”

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