Legislation increasing whistleblower protections for feds gets House approval

The bill is included in both the House and Senate versions of the Protecting Our Democracy Act.

The bill is included in both the House and Senate versions of the Protecting Our Democracy Act. JakeOlimb/Getty Images

It is one of several bills House lawmakers took up this week to improve government transparency and accountability. 

The House voted 221-203 to pass legislation on Thursday bolstering protections for federal employees who blow the whistle on fraud, waste and abuse.

The bill would increase whistleblower protections for federal employees, make sure that whistleblowers have due process and equitable relief and expand whistleblower protections to federal employees not previously covered, among other things. It is one of several bills the House took up this week to improve government transparency and accountability. 

“Congress relies on whistleblowers to exercise our constitutional oversight responsibilities, safeguard taxpayer dollars, improve federal programs, and even save lives,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, who introduced the bill, said in a press release. “Today’s bipartisan passage of the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act brings us one step closer to ensuring that any federal employee who steps forward to report wrongdoing is protected from retaliation. I hope the Senate will quickly take up this commonsense bill.” 

There is no companion version for the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act in the Senate to date. However, the bill is included in both the House and Senate versions of the Protecting Our Democracy Act, a massive government bill that came largely in response to issues raised under the Trump administration The House passed the bill in December 2021 and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., was the only Republican to vote for it. So far, in the Senate, the bill has just been introduced and there are no Republican cosponsors. 

“When Americans alert the nation to waste, fraud, and abuse by the federal government, they take immense personal, professional, and emotional risks,” said Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C. ranking member of the oversight committee’s panel on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and co-sponsor of the bill. “The passage of the bipartisan Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act will help ensure these brave citizens who help root out corruption are protected from possible intimidation and retaliation.”

A diverse coalition of over 100 organizations threw their support behind the bill this past summer saying, the legislation, “addresses both the loopholes and due process gaps by providing parity for federal civil service employee whistleblower rights with those enacted by Congress” for most of the private sector whistleblower laws enacted since 2002.

The White House also endorsed the bill in a statement of administration policy released on Tuesday. 

However, the bill was not without opposition. 

“I appreciate and value whistleblowers’ service and sacrifice to make government better,” Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., ranking member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said on the House floor on Tuesday, adding that he opposed this bill because there are already many whistleblower laws on the books and this one goes too far. Democrats should “stop working to further entrench the executive branch bureaucracy,” he said. 

This article was published first on GovExec, a FederalSoup partner site. 

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