President Trump is reportedly looking to reorganize the federal government and finally fulfill a conservative proposal which dates back more than 20 years ago. As Fox News reports, Trump could announce intentions to merge the Labor Department and the Education Department as early as Thursday morning.
The Trump administration is looking to finally complete an idea which conservatives first introduced in the 1990s. Previously, as Fox News reports Republican lawmakers introduced the idea to merge the Education Department, the Labor Department, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The idea was to have the new department operate under a new name, the Department of Education and Employment, but never materialized.
Any change to the structure of the federal government has to be approved by Congress.
Here’s more from Fox News:
According to the Journal, the Education Department is one of the smallest agencies of the federal government, with approximately 3,900 employees. The paper reports that its workforce has shrunk by 10 percent as the result of a hiring freeze instituted by President Trump soon after he took office.
The Labor Department has a reported 15,000 employees and has a variety of responsibilities, including compiling employment statistics and enforcing federal wage laws.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 21, 2018
As Politico reports, the two departments are currently undergoing changes to their roles and responsibilities irrespective of the proposed merger:
The Education Department is in the middle of its own restructuring, including a massive shakeup of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
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As part of its overall agency reform plan submitted to OMB last fall, the Education Department had proposed taking over a slew of programs that are currently managed by the Labor Department. It did not propose a merger with Labor.
That proposal from September, which was obtained by POLITICO, called for moving the Labor Department offices overseeing employment for people with disabilities, dislocated worker programs and youth workforce training funding to the Education Department.
For example, the plan calls for redirecting funding for the Labor Department’s adult and dislocated worker programs into expanding Pell grants, run by the Education Department, for short-term training programs.
It also proposed sending H-1B visa fees that are currently used by the Labor Department for short-term job training programs to the Education Department to make competitive grants to “education and business partnerships” to boost high school science, technology engineering and math education.
The Hill reports that before 1979, the Health and Human Services Department had “welfare” in its name and was known as the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. In 1979, Congress implemented the creation of a separate Education Department and was signed into law by former President Carter. The HHS was subsequently renamed.
It is unclear what impact the announcement to merge the departments will really have as the legislative calendar is rather encumbered and prior attempts to restructure the federal government have gotten little traction. Republican lawmakers are still looking to address fixing the immigration system, repealing and replacing Obamacare, and overhauling the welfare system. Some or all of these initiatives could be affected if Democrats win back some seats in the upcoming congressional elections.
As the Wall Street Journal reports, lawmakers have only half-heartedly embraced the idea of reorganizing the federal government:
Lawmakers have shown reluctance to embrace such plans in the past, and Congress has limited time for major legislation before the November midterm elections. Previous proposals to eliminate agencies, including the departments of education and energy, have made little headway.
Streamlining the executive branch has been a longtime conservative goal. The new plan also meshes with the administration’s priority of retooling higher-education programs to train students more directly to join the workforce.
The Department of Education is led by Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Labor is led by R. Alexander Acosta.