Ron DeSantis said if he’s elected president, he’ll look to eliminate four major federal agencies. And he’s got a Plan B if he can’t get rid of them.
In an interview with DeSantis on June 28, Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum asked the Florida governor, “Are you in favor of eliminating any agencies? I know conservatives in the past have talked about closing the Department of Education. Would you do that?”
“So we would do education,” DeSantis agreed. “We would do [the Department of] Commerce, we would do [the Department of] Energy, and we would do IRS (Internal Revenue Service). And so if Congress will work with me on doing that, we’ll be able to reduce the scope of government.”
“But what I’m also going to do, Martha, is be prepared. If Congress won’t go that far, I’m going to use those agencies to push back against woke ideology and against the leftism that we see creeping into all institutions of American life.
“So, for example, with the Department of Education, we reverse all the transgender sports stuff. Women’s sports should be protected. We reverse policies trying to inject the curriculum into our schools. That will all be gone.
“We will make sure we have an accreditation system for higher ed, which is not trying to foment things like DEI and CRT. So we’ll be prepared to do both. Either way, it’ll be a win for conservatives.”
DeSantis referred to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness programming and Critical Race Theory, controversial approaches in the education and work spheres he has fought with some success as governor.
He’s passed laws not only pushing back against their pervasive use in schools but barring pension funds from using DEI as a criterion for investment. And the state now bars banks and other financial institutions from using it against the accounts or transactions of customers such as gun retailers.
DeSantis is also campaigning on directing federal agencies to move half their employment footprint out of the Washington area.
He’s talked about “reconstitutionalizing” the federal government, addressing the growth of the regulatory bureaucracy as a powerful fourth branch of government not provided for in the Constitution. He plans to tear down and rebuild the Department of Justice and the FBI.
If Trump Returns
Republican frontrunner and former President Donald Trump, in his approach to the bureaucracy, would look to resume the “Schedule F” Civil Service initiative from his first term if he returns to the White House.
That plan, rescinded by President Joe Biden shortly after taking office in 2021, would add 50,000 upper-level civil service employees to the 4,000 political appointees currently serving at the president’s discretion out of over 2 million federal employees.
Trump signed an executive order near the end of his term, in October 2020, creating the Schedule F system. It was never fully implemented. Under it, the president would have the right to fire Schedule F employees, those deemed to have some influence over policy.
At a speech last year in South Carolina, Trump upped the ante.
“We will pass critical reforms making every executive branch employee fireable by the president of the United States,” Trump said at a March 12, 2022, rally. “The deep state must and will be brought to heel.”
DeSantis also supports expanding the president’s right to fire civil servants. On June 12, he told radio host Hugh Hewitt he’d go to the Supreme Court if necessary to support the president’s Constitutional rights under Article II to run the executive branch of the government to “bring the bureaucracy to heel. I don’t buy this idea that the president cannot remove a “career” person.
“When they’re abusing power, and they’re going outside of what is appropriate, they absolutely should be terminated, and terminated swiftly,” DeSantis told Hewitt. “So we’re going to be doing that. I think we’re going to do it in a big way.”