Updated Sep 13, 2023, 6:49am EDT
politicsNorth America

Vivek Ramaswamy’s plan to eliminate the FBI without Congress

REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

Sign up for Semafor Principals: What the White House is reading. Read it now.

Title icon

The News

Vivek Ramaswamy plans to shut down five federal agencies by bypassing Congress and using executive authority should he take office in 2024.

Ramaswamy, who detailed parts of his proposed agenda during a phone call with Semafor on Tuesday night, said he plans to shutter the FBI, ATF, U.S. Department of Education, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Services. He will fully unveil his “legal and constitutional basis” for the plan later today during a speech at the America First Policy Institute.

“Do you want incremental reform?” Ramaswamy said he planned to ask voters. “Or do you want a quantum leap in reviving the ideals of the American Revolution?”

Under Ramaswamy’s proposal, which he called “seismic” in scope, these agencies would not be replaced. Instead, a certain number of employees from the defunct government units would be reallocated: For example, he suggested around “15,000 of the 35,000 FBI employees” would be “reassigned” to sectors like the U.S. Marshals, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and the DEA.

His broader goals include “reducing the size of the federal employees down by 75% by the end of the first term” and implementing “a revision of at least 50% of federal regulations that failed the Supreme Court’s test” in the case of West Virginia vs. EPA.


Ramaswamy’s plan to act without Congress would almost certainly face swift legal pushback, but he said he’s confident the decisions would ultimately stand.

“We’ll take it to the Supreme Court, and I think we’ll win 6-3,” he told Semafor, adding that he’s “taken detailed advice from multiple legal academics who are at the bleeding edge of this.”

Title icon

Shelby’s view

Ramaswamy’s proposal is in keeping with his candidacy so far: Big, bold, and likely to be derided by his critics as wildly unrealistic. Presidents have requested authority from Congress to reorganize the government in the past, subject to their approval. Ramaswamy’s plan would require him to convince the courts he has a unilateral right to shut down a variety of agencies and then move around their funding, staff, and legal missions as he saw fit.

Politically, his call for executive action gives him a way to one-up his Republican rivals, some of whom have long proposed eliminating various agencies to save money or reduce federal power. Ron DeSantis has promised to eliminate the Departments of Education and Commerce, the IRS, and others — though he’s suggested he’d try and force it through Congress. If that failed, DeSantis said he’d use the agencies to “push back on woke ideology.”

Title icon


  • A number of House Republicans have also talked about defunding, eliminating, or replacing the FBI, though typically in the context of Congressional action.