Or was it the voters? Several Trump appointees tell Politico that they had parental leave plans approved and in place before the election and planned to use that time after the births of their children. When the children arrived, however, the administration the parents served had come to an end, as had the basis for their appointments.
Rather than honor the requests, the Biden transition team told them tough luck:
After four years in the Trump administration, Vanessa Ambrosini was looking forward to three months of parental leave when she and her husband welcomed a baby a week before Christmas. The Commerce Department’s human resources office had given her approval for it. But then she was surprised to find out the benefit was no longer available because of the change in administration.
“I got completely screwed,” she said in an interview. “There were no caveats in that language saying anything about if the administration turns, you get nothing and of course, that happened and so I got nothing.”
Ambrosini is among a number of ex-Trump political officials who lost their parental leave when Joe Biden was sworn into office. It’s a byproduct of the field they’re in: Their boss (the president) may have been the one let go, but his departure has meant that they, too, lose their jobs and benefits. Still, they argue that the Biden administration should have honored their leave by keeping them on payroll until the end of it — a request that, emails reviewed by POLITICO show, the Biden transition did not grant.
In one sense, it is tough luck. Career employees don’t have this issue, thanks to civil-service regulations, but political appointees serve at the pleasure of the president. When the White House changes parties as well as hands, it’s almost certain that the previous appointees won’t please the new renter at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That doesn’t necessarily mean the new administration will rush people out of the office, but political appointees should be prepared for their jobs to end at noon on January 20th, absent an invitation to stick around.
The explanation from the Biden team makes this sound a bit more petty than procedural, though. They claim that Donald Trump’s lack of coordination during the transition made it impossible to honor these requests:
The Biden White House declined to speak about the issue on record. Instead, an official noted anonymously that political appointees “do not enjoy the promise of federal employment past the end of the administration in which they choose to serve.” The official blamed the fact that the Trump administration dragged its heels on a quick and orderly transition as a reason why some on his team were caught off guard by the benefits ending.
To quote Joe Biden himself, come on man — that’s a load of malarkey. It would not have taken much effort to work those requests into the normal exit process by simply re-setting the termination date at the end of the paid leave. That’s paid leave that Biden not only supports but supports expanding, in many cases at taxpayer expense. The personnel staff in these bureaus and agencies aren’t political appointees and already had those requests in their system, so it’s not as though it would have taken much work at all to deal with a disconnect. On top of that, this kind of personnel issue wouldn’t be a significant part of a presidential transition in the first place.
That may be why Politico decided to run with this story in the first place. Had Team Biden just left their reasoning on the natural end of political appointments, this might not have been much of a story. Instead, they want to make it about Trump, which makes this malarkey more newsworthy, but the excuse more threadbare, too. If they really care about expanded parental leave, wouldn’t this be a situation where an intervention is required? What would this same administration say if this took place in the private sector with contract-based employees whose term expired? I’d bet that excuses about transitions would get very little draw in a Biden administration’s regulatory and enforcement environment.