GAP today praised the unanimous action of a 35-0 vote by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to approve HR 3289, the Platts-Van Hollen Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2011.
This legislation – the companion bill to the Senate's Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) legislation, passed last month – is a long-overdue overhaul of the ineffective Whistleblower Protection Act, the primary statute to protect federal whistleblowers who report waste, fraud and abuse.
The Committee introduced the legislation this past Tuesday. The WPEA was blocked from passage last Congress by an anonymous hold placed hours before adjournment, after the reform had passed, in some form, both the Senate and House of Representatives unanimously.
GAP Legal Director Tom Devine commented, "In the last month, nearly identical overhauls to give federal whistleblowers their strongest rights in history have passed both House and Senate committees unanimously. Congress should complete enactment of this long-overdue taxpayer reform before Christmas. No plan to cut federal waste and misspending will be credible without these protections."
Devine continued, "Fine tuning to the language is still needed before the law is ready, but the moment of truth will be whether the final House bill includes protections for intelligence community workers. Chairman Issa is courageously defending those whistleblowers despite threats from the House Intelligence committee to kill the entire reform if it includes modest protections for those workers – which were negotiated over seven months by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Whistleblowers from intelligence agencies have shown that the notion of secrecy is used to bilk taxpayers, enact hidden agendas that hurt national security, and threaten Americans' privacy. Credible whistleblower protections also are essential to stopping anonymous leaks by providing a safe alternative."