Today, the Government Accountability Project denounces David Dreier’s (R-CA) Rules Committee for twice denying the House of Representatives the opportunity to vote on protections for national security whistleblowers. The Rules Committee rejected whistleblower rights amendments submitted by Tom Davis (R-VA) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) for Wednesday’s consideration of the intelligence authorization bill. A similar amendment will not receive an up or down vote during debate today on lobbying reform.
“Whistleblowers are necessary for Congress to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to conduct effective oversight,” said GAP Legislative Representative Adam Miles. “While passing an intelligence authorization bill that condemns leaks of classified information, House leadership refused to even consider alternatives that would allow intelligence employees to bring their concerns to the Congress.”
The lobbying reform bill, H.R. 4975, which the House may vote on later today, has been largely criticized as too weak to reform the legislative process. In adopting a rule in the early morning hours that limits today’s debate on the lobbying bill to nine amendments, the Rules Committee did little to quash this criticism. Among the 65 amendments rejected by the Rules Committee was H.R. 5112, an ethics and accountability proposal that includes landmark protections for national security whistleblowers. It was approved unanimously by Chairman Davis’ Government Reform Committee on April 6.
“Unfortunately, the Rules Committee wanted to limit today’s debate to tinkering a bit with the status quo. Proposals for meaningful change were rejected outright,” added Miles.
In appealing to the Rules Committee yesterday, Reps. Davis and Waxman asked that H.R. 5112 be considered as stand alone legislation if it was rejected as an amendment to the lobbying bill. The Government Reform Committee also approved H.R. 1317, the “Federal Employee Protection of Disclosures Act,” legislation designed to restore the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act, in September 2005. GAP and its coalition partners will work in the coming months to secure floor votes on H.R. 1317 and H.R. 5112.