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The House on Thursday approved legislation aimed at increasing protections for federal workers who expose government corruption, over the objection of Republicans who said the bill really about protecting government employees who worked against President Donald Trump.
Democrats acknowledged that Trump was an impetus for the bill during floor debate this week. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee and introduced the Whistleblower Protection Improvement Act, said Trump’s team made “repeated and consistent efforts” to silence whistleblowers.
“In May, the Department of Defense IG found that Trump loyalists retaliated against Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, who bravely reported that President Trump had an unlawful phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy,” added Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., during floor debate. “Even in the wake of a damning impeachment trial, and in full view of the public, Mr. Trump felt emboldened to attack active duty servicemembers who had the courage and common sense to expose that extortion.”
Republicans argued that there are several whistleblower protection laws already on the books, and that this week’s Democratic push was about protecting employees who worked to thwart Trump’s agenda.
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“In large part, this bill is just an excuse to further idolize the people who pushed the sham impeachment against former President Trump,” Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the top Republican on the Oversight and Reform Committee, argued on the House floor. “Entrenching federal government employees… is, in large part, why President Trump got elected in the first place: to drain the swamp. Democrats may be wise to remember this concern of the American people and stop working to further entrench the executive branch bureaucracy.”
Republicans concluded when the bill was considered in committee that the bill is at best a bill in search of a problem, and at worst is “a means for Democrats to talk about President Trump to distract from the failings of President Biden.”
They also argued the bill makes it too easy for any federal worker to claim whistleblower status, thus protecting lazy, ineffectual or corrupt employees.
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“The bill would prohibit mere investigation by an agency into an employee’s participation in misconduct or an incident if the employee simply claims whistleblower status, and that’s a problem,” Comer said.
If approved by the Senate and signed by President Biden, the bill would strengthen current federal law by prohibiting retaliation against government whistleblowers and would prevent federal agencies from publicly identifying whistleblowers. Republicans argued it is not always appropriate to shield the identity of whistleblowers and said they might need to be identified in a court setting in some cases so investigators are not forced to rely on anonymous hearsay.
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The bill also creates new procedures that federal workers can use to win “timely relief” when government retaliation does occur.
Republican objections weren’t enough to sway the Democratic-led House, which passed the bill in a 221-203 vote.
Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/house-passes-whistleblower-bill-gop-says-rewards-those-who-pushed-trump-impeachment