The president instituted a hiring freeze on federal workers almost before the applause had died down at the inauguration. This move has angered many Democrats, unions and government employees (but I repeat myself) to the point of distraction. Most of the objections have been coming from the usual list of suspects and can be safely discounted by those with a vested interest in cost-cutting and shrinking the size of government. There is, however, one point of contention which is worth a closer look. There are already some exceptions being made to the freeze in areas where critical positions must be filled but a group of lawmakers would like to extend that policy to apply to veterans seeking work with the federal government. (Government Executive)

A group of 22 Democratic lawmakers is pushing for President Trump’s hiring freeze to exempt any veteran applying for a federal job.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., introduced a bill this week to allow federal agencies to bypass Trump’s memorandum instituting a moratorium on hiring if the applicant previously served in the armed forces. Nearly 31 percent of federal employees are veterans, Lynch noted, and about one in three new hires in fiscal 2015 was a veteran. The bill, he said, would demonstrate the government would not “close its doors” to veterans.

“President Trump’s federal hiring freeze not only hurts everyday Americans seeking a prompt response from a federal agency, but also makes it difficult for veterans looking for employment in the federal government across the country,” Lynch said. “Veterans have earned their hiring preference and I am deeply concerned that the federal hiring freeze will disproportionately hurt America’s veterans.”

It’s easy enough to brush off such a suggestion in the name of a slash and burn approach to shrinking the federal behemoth, particularly when considering the idea that one exception can lead to another and another until the freeze becomes little more than lip service. Still, let’s not be too hasty about this. If we’re going to make exceptions for anyone, surely our veterans are worthy of consideration to be at the top of the list. It’s also not as if this would be in any way unique or some sort of startling new policy. We already make special exceptions for veterans, allowing them extra points on their civil service test results and preferred consideration (be it official or casual) when it comes to jobs in government which specifically deal with the military.

Having spent some years in the private sector working with companies having government contracts, I frequently found myself working alongside government employees who oversaw the fulfillment of government contracts. Many of these are awarded to companies which provide equipment, support, training and other services to the various branches of the military. Not only are those roles filled by veterans, but the private sector companies who win bids for these jobs frequently employ many veterans as well. These retired warriors bring a unique set of skills and experience to the job which can rarely be found among career civilian applicants.

I remain a big fan of the hiring freeze and believe that we will be saving significant money in the executive branch as well as setting a good example to be followed by government agencies across the board. But the number of jobs which would be filled by veterans is surely not large enough to wipe out any expected savings to a significant degree. This proposal is being put forward at the moment by Democrats but I see no reason why the GOP shouldn’t take a serious look at the question and even lend their support.