The White House lifted President Donald Trump's hiring freeze on Wednesday. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney made the announcement to reporters on Tuesday, after the administration was heavily criticized for implementing a freeze that hinders major functions of the federal government. However, Mulvaney was quick to point out that "this does not mean agencies will be free to hire willy-nilly."
As part of the president's plan to run the country as if it were a business, Mulvaney explained to reporters on Tuesday that, “What we’re doing tomorrow is replacing the across-the-board hiring freeze that was put in place on day one and replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan." Trump's executive order was technically not across the board, however, because there were exemptions for sectors such as the military, public safety and public health.
Mulvaney suggested that the Trump administration seeks to do something that has "never been done before" which includes rebuilding the executive branch like a "literal blank piece of paper."
While the halting his hiring freeze may look appealing at face value, Trump is instead asking federal agencies to make the cuts themselves. The New York Times reported:
The guidance that will be issued on Wednesday asks agencies to begin taking immediate steps to achieve the reductions to their work forces. Agencies will also be required to develop plans by June 30 to “maximize employee performance.” By mid-September, they must come back to the administration with longer-term plans.
But Congress holds the purse strings that dictate how executive branch agencies are funded. Republicans and Democrats across Congress viewed many of the cuts proposed in Mr. Trump’s budget outline as nonstarters.
This, of course, does nothing to ease the fears of many federal workers throughout Washington who believe their jobs are in jeopardy and stand to be eliminated due to the deep cuts Trump has asked for.
Ultimately, Congress will be set the spending levels for federal agencies.
“We’re hopeful to be able to have congressional buy-in to get some of this accomplished,” Mulvaney said of the White House's plan on Tuesday.