POGO's still hoping for a House vote sometime today or tomorrow on the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (S. 372), which the Senate passed by unanimous consent earlier this month.
S. 372 protects federal workers who use legal and safe channels to expose waste, fraud, abuse, and threats to public safety. Unfortunately, this commonsense good government reform has found itself in legislative limbo, with Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), incoming Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, unexpectedly reversing his support for the bill.
Over the last few days, Rep. Issa has repeatedly raised concerns that S. 372 will enable or embolden would-be WikiLeakers—but as outlined in our S. 372 and WikiLeaks Fact Sheet, these concerns are misplaced. There is nothing in this bill that would allow for public disclosure of classified information à la WikiLeaks.
As noted yesterday in a dynamite editorial by the St. Petersburg Times, "This bill would reduce the likelihood that insiders leak sensitive information since there would be a safe, alternative means of bringing issues to light. The WikiLeak concern is nothing but a red herring."
The Wisconsin State Journal echoed these arguments in an editorial this morning:
The WikiLeaks controversy has apparently put a scare into some House members who previously would have supported the whistle-blower legislation. And that's very unfortunate, in that the two issues are not at all connected.
In fact, the absence of a reasonable, supportive path for potential whistle-blowers — such as would be created by the pending legislation — can create an environment that pushes people to WikiLeaks and the like, rather than conventional, more useful channels. (Emphasis added)
We are disappointed that Mr. Issa has flip-flopped on the bill he used to support and instead is perpetuating the myth that this bill would protect WikiLeaks.
One of Rep. Issa's Republican colleagues, however, continues to be a true hero for whistleblowers and champion for ridding the government of waste, fraud, and abuse: Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA). He and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) are cosponsors of the House version of the bill and are working together for House passage of the version that the Senate passed unanimously.
Here's what you can do to help the efforts to secure this vital reform:
- Contact your Member of Congress and urge them to support swift passage of S. 372. Find your Representative's phone number here, or reach them via the capitol switchboard: 202-225-3121.
- Contact House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and future Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and tell them it's important to stand up to the myth-makers and show the American people you care about taking on waste, fraud, and abuse in government. Rep. Pelosi's office number: (202) 225-0100. Rep. Boehner's office number: (202) 225-6205.
If you are a constituent of Reps. Issa, Van Hollen, or Platts, please reach out to them with a special message:
- Constituents of Rep. Issa: Tell Mr. Issa to stop spreading the myth that this bill might protect WikiLeaks. Tell him that if he wants to end waste, fraud, and abuse in government, he should start by supporting S. 372. Rep. Issa's office number: (202)-225-3906.
- Constituents of Reps. Van Hollen and Platts should say, "Thank you for all you are doing to support the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act. We appreciate your leadership in protecting federal whistleblowers, and are counting on you to do all you can to have the House vote on S. 372 before the end of this Congress." Rep. Van Hollen's office number: (202) 225-5341. Rep Platts' office number: (202) 225-5836.
Constituents can also email their Representative and urge him or her to support swift passage of S. 372 here.
S. 372 has the support of a broad coalition of groups. National Taxpayers Union is urging all Members of Congress to vote YES on the bill, and notes that "roll call votes on S. 372 will be significantly weighted" in its annual Rating of Congress.
A vote for WPEA is a vote AGAINST waste, fraud, and abuse. A vote for the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act is a vote AGAINST leaks. If we miss this window in the lame duck session, we're back to the unacceptable status quo.
-- Bryan Rahija
Image by Flickr user 'No Matter' Project, used under Creative Commons License.