Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley wants to take the government bureaucracy out of Washington D.C. and diffuse it across the entire country, but how would it affect the nation’s capital?
Hawley has made a name for himself in the Senate as a populist problem solver, offering blunt solutions to hot-button issues like big tech censorship and, of course, government bureaucracy. Hawley’s plan — co-authored with Republican Tennesee Rep. Marsha Blackburn — takes a more literal approach to draining the swamp. It would move 90 percent of the workforce of ten federal agencies out of Washington and into economically distressed regions across the country.
“Every year Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars fund federal agencies that are mainly located in the D.C. bubble. That’s a big part of the problem with Washington: they’re too removed from the rest of America.” Hawley told reporters on Capitol Hill. “The HIRE Act will move policymakers directly into the communities they serve, creating thousands of jobs for local communities and saving taxpayers billions of dollars along the way.” (RELATED: Here Are The Conservative Groups Google Is Hiring To Brush Back Sen. Hawley)
Why, Hawley asks, should American taxpayers pay the salaries of federal employees when those jobs are concentrated almost exclusively around DC?
Blackburn and Hawley’s bill, the HIRE Act, would enact en masse what some federal agencies have been trying for themselves already. The U.S. Department of the Interior sent out nearly 300 relocation notices to D.C. employees Tuesday, giving them 30 days to decide whether to relocate to offices in the Western U.S. or forfeit their positions, according to Government Executive.
“We sincerely hope employees will be able to follow their positions to the new locations but there are many factors that an individual may consider when deciding whether or not to relocate, so it’s difficult to say at this time exactly how many people will choose to relocate,” said Derrick Henry, a BLM spokesman. (RELATED: Hawley Says AG Barr’s Probe Into Silicon Valley Is ‘Very Big News And Very Important’)
Hawley’s bill doesn’t weigh in on whether current DC employees would be given the same opportunity to relocate with their jobs, but Deputy Communications Director Mike Berg told the Daily Caller that while employees would likely be given the option, most would decline.
DC workers are unsurprisingly opposed to the move. When Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced at a June staff meeting that hundreds of USDA jobs would be moving to Missouri, many in attendance turned their backs on him.
“What’s most frustrating, I think, is they want to move us so quickly,” Claudia Hitaj, one of the protesters, told the Kansas City Star. “We get the letter today and if we want to we can move in mid-July? That is physically impossible. Find a new house over there, get your kids into a new school. It seems like a slap in the face.”
But with roughly 360,000 DC residents employed by the federal government, the hundreds who chose to remain jobless in D.C. this summer would likely be be dwarfed by tens of thousands of others like them if Hawley’s bill succeeds. It’s an effect that Hawley appears to dismiss.
“[D.C] is such an insular place and people forget that there’s a vast country out there and there’s lots of places in the country that aren’t like D.C. and haven’t seen gobs of money poured in,” Hawley said on Capitol Hill. “I mean, this town’s doing great. This town always does great because there’s gobs of money that get poured into this town. But there’s a lot of places in our state and other states that haven’t seen a lot of investment, that haven’t seen a lot of jobs.”
The bill calls for relocating 90 percent of jobs in the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, and Veterans Affairs. The agencies would move to Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, New Mexico, West Virginia, Michigan, and South Carolina. (RELATED: Hawley Calls Facebook’s Conservative Bias Audit A ‘Smokescreen’)
Hawley argues the economic benefit of relocating the agencies is twofold: The poorer areas where the agencies would move to can become more affluent while the cost to taxpayers would go down as federal salaries would no longer need to cover the high cost of living in the nation’s capital. Moreover, a huge portion of the federal workforce — about half, according to the Washington Post in 2016 — is eligible to work from home.
“Moving agencies outside of Washington, D.C. both boosts local economies and lowers costs – that’s a winning combination,” Rep. Blackburn said in a statement. “This legislation would enable Americans across the country to have greater access to good jobs.”