Rep. Jim Banks: ‘Infuriating’ That So Many Federal Employees Are Still Working From Home

By Susan Jones | December 1, 2021 | 7:27am EST
(Photo: Getty Images)
(Photo: Getty Images)

( - "The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Transformed the Federal Workplace As We Know It," says one bold-faced heading in the "2021 Guide to Telework and Remote Work in the Federal Government," recently released by the Office of Personnel Management.

According to the 77-page guide:

A robust and well-practiced telework program improves employee performance and engagement and supports mission productivity and efficiency. Telework can serve as a critical workplace flexibility that enables agencies to meet mission-critical needs of the organization. And it can help Federal workers balance work and personal responsibilities and make use of beneficial work environments, thereby enhancing employee satisfaction and wellbeing, aiding retention, and serving as a draw to potential applicants.

"It's infuriating," Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) told Fox News's Laura Ingraham on Tuesday, after Ingraham spent the first part of her program explaining that "the average federal worker apparently believes staying home is their right."

Ingraham questioned "how many of these teleworkers are actually essential workers? Here's my rule of thumb. If they haven't been in to the office for two years and have no plans to make it back in, how essential can they really be?"

Banks told Ingraham his constituents are complaining:

I mean, when you consider that right now we have a backlog of 182,000 claims at the V.A. for our veterans, who by the way are calling my office every day, they're frustrated with the bureaucracy. That backlog, by the way is caused specifically because the V.A. Employees are working from home.

You have Social Security offices all over the country that have closed. You have to do everything by mail with Social Security because workers are working from home. You have a 12- to 18-week backlog for visa applications at the State Department because of this mess. I mean You could go on and on -- more examples of this, like, I have constituents calling my office and say they still haven't received their 2020 tax return from the IRS because of this issue.

Really at the end of the day, it's a matter of fairness. My brother works in the same factory my dad worked at. He goes to work every day and makes axles. He can't work from home, but he does pay taxes and his tax dollars are going to pay for federal government employees who are making twice as much money, they get twice as many vacation days. It's not public service if you're better off than everyone else around you. That's what we call a scam.

Ingraham agreed, "Yeah, well they all have to either come back to work, or they're nonessential, and they should gradually just be phased out of the federal workforce. Don't you agree? I mean, if you can't drag yourself into the workplace but you expect the Amazon delivery guy to come to you every day, how is this right or fair to the American tax payer?"

(2021 OPM guidance for federal workers working remotely from home.)
(2021 OPM guidance for federal workers working remotely from home.)

"Yeah It's not fair at all," Banks said:

But to your point earlier, Laura, the example is being set by Democrats in Congress who just released the new congressional schedule for 2022 today just earlier today. And we will be in session fewer days next year than what we were in session this year. The least amount of days that members of Congress will actually go to work in modern history.

Yet every member of Congress will still get a paycheck for $174,000 a year, they can vote by proxy. They never have to come to Washington, D.C. This is the Democrat example that they’ve set for the American people, and they're playing it out with federal employees as well.

Ingraham noted that when she drives by those huge federal office buildings in Washington, "I'd say about a third of the lights are on or a third of the offices seem like they're occupied, which...leads to the next question. How many of these employees did we ever need in the federal government, and why are they still working? Because they're not really working. That's the answer."

"It proves that point," Banks agreed:

It proves it very, very well. And when we get the majority back in the next election, Laura, hold us accountable for this. We have to dig in to this to look at how many federal government employees do we really need.

I mean, actually study each department, department by department, and determine how many of these employees can be cut. Because the hard-working American people who do have to go to a job every day, that actually do something, they actually work and create something, they're the ones who are footing the bill for those who have a job where they can’t stay at home and still get paid $100,000 or more.

Take this example into account: At the Department of Education, federal Department of Education, on average they make $100,000 a year. Teachers make half of that on average around the country.

And these federal employees who work at the Department of Education, they don't teach kids how to read or write, and they're making twice as much as teachers and now they get to stay home and do whatever job it is that they do from home.

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