Remarks on Signing the Federal Employee Hiring Freeze Memorandum and the Cabinet Member Nominations

January 20, 1981

The President. This -- for the benefit of the oral press -- this is an order that I am signing, an immediate freeze on the hiring of civilian employees in the executive branch. I pledged last July that this would be a first step toward controlling the growth and the size of Government and reducing the drain on the economy for the public sector. And beyond the symbolic value of this, which is my first official act, the freeze will eventually lead to a significant reduction in the size of the Federal work force. Only rare exemptions will be permitted in order to maintain vital services.

Now, I am happy to be taking this action in this historic room, a sign of what I hope will be full cooperation between Congress and the executive branch.

This is a memorandum for the heads of executive departments and agencies, and then, of course, will be implemented by the Office of Management and Budget.

And now I shall sign the nominations for members of my Cabinet. This is for Alexander Haig, Jr., of Connecticut, Secretary of State. That will go to Alexander Haig.

Donald T. Regan, of New Jersey, to be Secretary of the Treasury. It's awfully hard for me to say Regan. [Laughter] I spent my life saying it the other way. But I found out that it's even because it's very difficult for him to call me Reagan. [Laughter]

Mr. Regan. It's getting easier. [Laughter]

The President. And this is for Caspar Willard Weinberger, Secretary of Defense.

William French Smith, of California, Attorney General.

James Watt, of Colorado, Secretary of the Interior.

John Block, of Illinois, Secretary of Agriculture -- graduate of West Point, yes.

Malcolm Baldrige, of Connecticut, Secretary of Commerce. Avocation, rodeo riding. [Laughter] The first time I tried to get ahold of him on the phone his wife had to tell me he was in a calf-roping contest.

Raymond Donovan, of New Jersey, Secretary of Labor.

Richard Schweiker, Pennsylvania, Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Samuel R. Pierce, Jr., of New York, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development -- already proved his quality in some of the meetings we've been having. He found the only washbasin in the washroom that you could get hot water out of. [Laughter]

Andrew L. Lewis, Pennsylvania, Secretary of Transportation.

And Governor James B. Edwards of South Carolina, Secretary of Energy.

T. H. Bell, of Utah, Secretary of Education.

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, of Maryland to be Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and the Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations.

David A. Stockman, of Michigan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

William J. Casey, of New York, Director of Central Intelligence.

Darrell M. Trent, of California, to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation.

We've done it. All right.

Speaker O'Neill. Mr. President, on behalf of the leadership in the House, Jim Wright, John Rhodes, Bob Michel, this is the flag that flew over the Capitol of the United States on the day you were elected.

The President. Well, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. Thank you.

Speaker O'Neill. I'm delighted to do it. We will also have the one that flew over the Capitol the day you were inaugurated. That will be preserved for you.

The President. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 1 p.m. in the Presidents Room at the Capitol.

loyees in the executive branch. I pledged last July that this would be a first step toward controlling the growth and the size of Government and reducing the drain on the economy for the public sector. And beyond the symbolic value of this, which is my first official act, the freeze will eventually lead to a significant reduction in the size of the Federal work force. Only rare exemptions will be permitted in order to maintain vital services.