Federal Whistleblower Law Still Languishing, but Reid Says He is Committed

In March 2007 the House of Representatives passed HR.985, strong legislation to protect federal employee whistleblowers. The measure passed  by a margin of 331-94. 

In December 2007 the Senate unanimously passed S.274, its version of the law.

It is now August 2008, and Congress has not taken a single action to pass these reforms. Conference members have not been selected. The bills are just sitting on the desks of the party leaders, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid, and they have made no indication as to when or if they plan to push them forward. Until now.

Maybe it is just lip service, but in an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal, Sen. Reid (who was discussing an egregious case of retaliation against TSA whistleblowers in Nevada) says that he is committed to seeing the legislation pass, but doesn’t say when. Even though the bills passed with the required two-thirds supermajority, Democrats could be worried about their ability to override a presidential veto (which has been promised). But on the other hand, maybe they are a little concerned about protecting whistleblowers when there is a good possibility they will be in power in a few months… 

The bottom line is that these laws need to be passed. Whistleblowers are getting hammered left and right. The new law (at least the House version) would guarantee, among other things, jury trials in federal court and protection for national security whistleblowers (employees of the FBI, CIA, etc.). Congress recently passed strong private sector coverage for 20 million manufacturing employees who blow the whistle on unsafe consumer goods, why shouldn’t government employees have the same protection when they report waste, fraud, abuse, and national security concerns?  

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