How difficult would it be for a Democratic POTUS to replace Trump's executive branch employees?

This question is inspired by the latest fiasco in the Homeland Security department and the firing of the head of the Secret Service. Let’s assume that the Democratic nominee wins in 2020. How easy or difficult is it going to be for the new POTUS to undo all the changes to personnel Trump has made? Of course the cabinet would be all new, but what about the heads of the lower level departments like the IRS, ICE, Secret Service, etc. What about the lower level officers like the deputy / assistant / associate level officials in the various departments? Let’s leave aside the issue of judicial appointments, as that’s to depressing to even think about right now.

there are jobs that are classified as political and they are normally replaced with a new president.

Other jobs at lower levels have some types of protection from being fired for politics. At what level that protection kicks in might depend on which department you are in. But even at those levels people might quit on their own if they don’t like the direction things are going. I recall reading EPA people quit after Trump took over even though they did not have to quit.

It looks like for the most part the changes Trump is making is at the high level political appointee level rather than with the rank and file civil service. This is because there are protections for civil service workers that aren’t in place for appointees, and because they low enough on the totem pole that its not worth while singling each one out. So for the most part these can be removed and replaced by a new administration as easily as Trump did their predecessors.

The main exceptions are, as you pointed out, is the judiciary, where McConnel’s obstruction of Obama appointees held open positions for Trump to fill that once filled are set for life, and the FBI director which was supposed to be for a 10 year term so as to prevent it from being influenced politically (we saw how that went). Another supposedly independent position that Trump is eyeing is the Federal reserve chairman, but so far he hasn’t acted.

That said there have been a fair amount of inderect fallout that has filtered down to the rank and file civil service. Particularly in the EPA and the State Department, where they have reached the conclusion that the administrations goals are in direct conflict with their work. The sever brain drain caused by these departures is going to take quite some time to reverse.

I suppose part of the question is how difficult it’s going to be to get the people from the old guard back in place. I wonder if many or any of them are waiting it out or if most of them have moved on in the private sector. If they’ve moved on I would guess that it’s going to be harder to replace, say, a mid-level EPA employee.

Most of the positions you’ve identified would be “political” positions where the incumbent would expect to be replaced (and often resign in anticipation of being replaced) by a new administration. So, very easy to replace.

The IRS Commissioner is appointed to a five-year term, so Rettig should be in office until November 2022.

Given the high age of the federal workforce (over half >50) and government retirement rules, there’s a lot of early retirements I’d guess (matches what I’ve seen in my fed office during past downsizes). The ones with specialized-enough knowledge often hang up a contracting shingle and work some fraction of the year, often for the same dept. they just left. It’s still a loss to workforce cohesiveness and institutional knowledge, but there will be old guarders out there.

Given that the Democrats have voted in virtual lockstep against many of President Trump’s nominees, I hope to see the Republicans reciprocate the next time a Dem wins the presidency. If the Republicans still control the Senate, that might mean a lot of vacancies.

I think you mean preciprocate. That’s what the Republicans have already done.

Why is petty spitefulness more important to you than competence?

Here is the Plum Book:

Because it doesn’t matter what Republicans do or did as long as they win, for HurricaneDitka. Democrats are evil, if you didn’t know.

This has been the conservative stance for 10 years now. I doubt you’ll get an honest answer.

No, I meant exactly what I said: “… the Democrats have voted in virtual lockstep against many of President Trump’s nominees, I hope to see the Republicans reciprocate the next time a Dem wins the presidency.” In other words, I hope, and believe, it will be extremely difficult for a Democratic POTUS to replace President Trump’s executive branch employees, at least so long as Republicans control the Senate.

“Competence” is not the word I’d use to describe Obama’s appointees, and I have no reason to expect any more “competence” from the next Dem’s nominees than the last one’s. As for “petty spitefulness”, it’s about teaching the Dems that their actions have consequences. You can’t vote in virtual lockstep against Republican nominees and not expect them to respond in kind.

Of course they wouldn’t. I expect them to act out of petty spite. What I don’t understand is the* hope* they’ll do so. I would think a patriotic fellow like you would want them to behave like adults.

When the Dems are behaving like drunken toddlers, playing by Marquess of Queensberry Rules does not seem like a wise move. What you seem to be proposing is that you guys get to vote in virtual lockstep against Republican nominees but that we shouldn’t do the same to you. Seems dumb. Real dumb.

So, like McConnell did to Obama’s nominations for judges?

You keep acting like Democrats started it. How many times have you crowed about Reid ending the filibuster? When did that happen again, before or after Trump and the Democrats “historic obstruction”?

The Party of Family Values and Personal Responsibility elected serial philanderer, draft dodger, never-met-a-bankruptcy-he-could-avoid Trump, campaigning on eliminating the national debt and draining the swamp. In return, the deficit has ballooned like an orange dictator-wannabe and record numbers of Cabinet-level nominees leaving in disgrace after their graft was discovered, and the most recent Supreme Court nominee literally yelled at Senators during his confirmation hearings like a - wait for it - drunken toddler.

But yeah, it’s REPUBLICANS that are totally playing by the rules. Condescension doesn’t fit those mired in hypocrisy and blind obedience to Trump, of all people.

Hey guys, HD is just still sore that Democrats blocked a vote on Orin Hatch’s favorite judge (Hatch’s words), Merrick Garland.

Cut him some slack and time to breathe.

That’s enough, people. No personal shots.