Last night, the Senate passed legislation by unanimous consent to strengthen the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act. Sponsored by Sen. Akaka (D-HI), the legislation (S.274) expands protections for federal employees by removing restrictions on when and where they may disclose evidence of wrongdoing. It also helps safeguard whistleblowers’ security clearances from agency retaliation. This is especially important considering that a large number of federal jobs with historically weaker protections (e.g., the FBI and defense and intelligence agencies) require such clearances.
A similar bill (H.R. 985), sponsored by Rep. Waxman (D-CA), passed the House in March with a 331-94 vote. It’s unclear now whether the two pieces of legislation will be worked out in conference or informally. There’s a strong possibility that President Bush will veto the final bill, yet Congress could override it if votes remain the same.
-- John Pruett