There is at least one issue that has bipartisan support: this country must address our growing federal debt and cannot afford to tolerate waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government. As the House prepares to adjourn this week, with this crisis looming, it must fulfill its commitments to taxpayers and enact strong legislation protecting federal whistleblowers in this lame duck session.
Protecting whistleblowers is a reform that has strong support across ideological lines. Federal employees, the foot soldiers in the war on waste, fraud and abuse, must get the protections they deserve. They must be able to fight back when they are fired, harassed and demoted in retaliation for their efforts to protect the public health and safety and taxpayer dollars.
Unfortunately, under current law the Merit Systems Protection Board rules against 99% of whistleblowers who file suit to defend themselves against retaliation. Fear of committing career suicide leads federal workers to become silent observers when they witness fraud, waste or abuse, or public safety threats such as the safety violations leading up to the BP oil rig disaster, and the West Virginia mining tragedy.
The Senate recently passed S. 372, The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, by unanimous consent. The House can and must enact a whistleblower reform law that ensures that federal workers who expose waste, fraud and abuse and who are then punished for speaking the truth have the tools they need to fight that retaliation, and win. Congress must significantly strengthen these protections, but time is running short.
Tell Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader John Boehner that a vote must be scheduled this week to pass S. 372, The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.