On January 23, 2017, President Donald Trump signed his “Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Hiring Freeze,” directing the executive branch to implement an across-the-board hiring freeze on civilian employees. Exempted from the freeze are military personnel and positions deemed necessary to national security or public safety. The memorandum ordered the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to develop a long term plan to reduce the federal work force within 90 days. The freeze expires upon implementation of OMB’s plan.
Two days later, OMB released a memorandum providing slightly more guidance. No new positions will be created, nor empty positions filled. Any job offer with a start date before February 22, 2017 will not be affected by the freeze; any offer with a start date after February 22, 2017 or not yet determined will be under the discretion of the Agency head.
The federal hiring freeze was part of Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter” which detailed his campaign platform. Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, in a press conference on January 23, said the goal is to eliminate spending on jobs that are “duplicative” in light of the “dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years” – a claim that has been heavily debated in the media. J. David Cox Sr., National President of the American Federation of Government Employees, said the freeze will, instead, disrupt crucial federal services and programs, and will increase government spending through increased reliance on contractors.
This weekend, I, a moderately liberal white female law student raised between California and the Midwest who is admittedly privileged in many regards, went to both President Trump’s inauguration on Friday and the Women’s March the day after. Upfront, my experience came with implicit biases. I am not a Trump voter; I attempted to remain unbiased and objective at inauguration, but fully intended on protesting at the march. I consider myself a pragmatist with a love for dialogue; I wanted to talk to people, hear their stories and perspectives, and see for myself what the mood was like between the two very different groups that descended on Washington this weekend.
Official numbers have not been released of how many people attended the inauguration. As of 11am on Friday morning, WMATA had recorded over 193,000 rides for the day. Presumably, not all of those rides were individuals attending the Inauguration, and a portion of inaugural attendees would not have used the metro. My personal metrics say that the size of the crowd was somewhere between being sparse enough where I could have done a cartwheel in any direction without harming anyone, but condensed enough that I easily inhaled a pack of cigarettes via second-hand smoke. However, photos comparing the inaugural crowds during President Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, and President Trump’s inauguration went viral not long after the ceremony finished. If you have yet to see them, just know that they were less than favorable for President Trump.
My ticket entrance was on 3rd and Constitution, directly adjacent to Judiciary Square. This was the only location where I personally encountered large-scale protests. As we approached the entrance there were four or so young African-American women chained together and to the metal gates delineating the entrance. They – and the protestors wearing all black in front of them – chanted “This checkpoint is closed” along with a number of other refrains denouncing white supremacy and President Trump. A man from Takoma Park who attended with the protestors said he would have preferred the blockade to have been closer to the gate; further out it served as more of a “spectacle” than to stop Trump supporters from entering the inauguration.