Washington, DC – Today, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bipartisan Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 (S. 2170), introduced by U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) and cosponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-Connecticut), Carl Levin (D-Michigan), and Mike Lee (R-Utah).

"The Hatch Act protects employees from improper political coercion in the workplace while preserving important rights to be active in the political process,” said Senator Akaka.  “The law must be modernized to reflect the significant changes that have occurred in the workplace since 1993.  I thank my colleagues on the committee for allowing the bill to move forward today, and I look forward to working enact this important legislation.”

The Hatch Act is a federal law that restricts political activity of federal employees, District of Columbia government employees, as well as state and local employees whose positions are connected to federal funds.  The Hatch Act was enacted in 1939, and Congress last amended it in 1993. 

The Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012 would:

  • Allow most state and local employees to run for partisan elective office;
  • Place employees of the executive branch of the District of Columbia under provisions of the Hatch Act that apply to executive branch employees in other states or localities;
  • Amend the Hatch Act’s penalty provisions for federal employees.  Currently, a federal employee found to have violated the Hatch Act must be terminated, although that penalty can be reduced to a 30 day suspension without pay with unanimous agreement of the Merit Systems Protection Board.  The bill would allow the Merit Systems Protection Board to consider a range of penalties, from removal to a reprimand.
  • Allow federal employees residing in the District of Columbia to run as independent candidates in partisan local elections, which already is permitted for federal employees who live in suburbs of the District of Columbia and other areas of the country with high concentrations of federal employees.

Senator Akaka is Chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, the Federal Workforce, and the District of Columbia. 

Media Contact

Jesse Broder Van Dyke (Akaka)