© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Trump Administration Announces Plans To Move Hundreds Of Federal Jobs Out Of D.C.


The Trump administration plans to move hundreds of government jobs out of Washington, D.C. The Department of Agriculture is transplanting two of its research agencies to the Kansas City area. And the Interior Department said this week the Bureau of Land Management's headquarters will soon be in Colorado. NPR's Brian Naylor reports on what's behind the moves and what some of those affected by them are saying.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced last month that his agency will move two research arms - the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture - to the Kansas City area by the end of September. Deputy Under Secretary Scott Hutchins told lawmakers yesterday that relocating the agencies will save over $300 million at a minimum.


SCOTT HUTCHINS: The secretary has committed to reinvest some of these considerable savings - $300 million nominally - over the first lease period in order to allow us to grow these agencies, grow their impact and grow their influence and expand the research capabilities.

NAYLOR: Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana agreed that going to Kansas City is a good move for the department and for the ag (ph) community.


MIKE BRAUN: It's in the middle of the Farm Belt. And I think it makes sense to be in the middle of where the breadbasket is. And then what's normally not talked about here would be, can we lower the costs of operation in a place like that? I'm almost certain that it'll be lower cost of doing business in Kansas City than D.C.

NAYLOR: But the USDA employees who will be relocated are apparently not convinced. Fully two-thirds have told the agency they intend to retire from their government jobs rather than move. Jacque Simon is with the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents many of the USDA employees. She says the move would not only uproot these workers' lives, but it would also undermine their work.

JACQUE SIMON: These are scientists and economists and nutrition experts, people who do research on the impact of climate change, on agriculture. These are people who are sometimes challenging the nutrition standards that some corporate agricultural interests and processed food interests don't want to see challenged.

NAYLOR: Most government employees do not work in Washington. The majority of USDA and Bureau of Land Management employees are already out in the field. And other government jobs have been moved out of Washington over the years. Former Senator Robert Byrd engineered the relocation of the FBI's fingerprint identification labs to his home state of West Virginia, for instance.

But Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, where many of the affected government employees live and work, says the Trump administration has something else in mind other than decentralizing the government.


CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: This is part of their whole sort of anti-expert, anti-science agenda. And in the case of the BLM, you're talking about moving it out of Washington, which will give sort of some of the local economic interests - oil and gas interests - much more leverage over decision-making.

NAYLOR: Van Hollen and other Democrats are working to block the moves. The House has voted to prohibit the USDA from spending money to move the research agencies, but it's unclear whether the Senate will go along. And in the meantime, the agencies are going ahead with their plans.

Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.