Put “federal hiring freeze” on the long, long list of things Donald Trump didn’t realize might be complicated. It turns out that when people leave jobs, things don’t get done because their coworkers can’t magically do twice as much work. And while breaking the government is a major Republican goal, breaking the government in ways their own voters notice might be a little more dangerous.
In mid-March, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin ordered that jobs tied to processing benefits claims wouldn’t be affected by the freeze. But the previous six weeks of no hiring, combined with high turnover and increased claims, pushed the backlog of veterans’ claims to recently top 100,000. The backlog was over 600,000 in early 2013 before the department made a concerted effort to reduce it below 100,000 starting last year.
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