The House included a taxpayer accountability amendment in the economic stimulus bill that provides protections to federal workers who expose waste, fraud and abuse, drawing praise from whistleblower advocacy groups.
The bipartisan amendment, sponsored by Reps. Todd Platts (pictured), R-Pa., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ensures that federal whistleblowers will be protected from retaliation. Current whistleblower laws on the books fail to protect federal whistleblowers from being fired, demoted or harassed. Since 1994, federal workers who were retaliated against have won less than 1 percent of their cases, noted the Government Accountability Project, an organization dedicated to whistleblower protection.
The House amendment incorporates the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and then-Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., in addition to Platts and Van Hollen in the last Congress. The House overwhelmingly approved the bill by a bipartisan vote of 331 to 94 in March 2007.
The Platts/VanHollen amendment had the strong backing of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who went to the House floor to speak for its passage.
GAP and other groups, including the American Federation of Government Employees, Common Cause, the National Whistleblower Center, the National Employment Lawyers Association, the Project on Government Oversight, Public Citizen, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation, are urging the Senate to include the whistleblower protection amendment in its version of the stimulus bill.
The final version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is expected to arrive at President Obama’s desk by mid-February.
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