Peters Discusses Importance of Protecting Federal Workers’ Rights During Hearing to Consider Nominations for the Merit Systems Protection Board

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, today convened a hearing to consider the nominations of Cathy Harris, Raymond Limon, and Tristan Leavitt to serve as members of the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB). If confirmed, Harris would also serve as Chair of the MSPB, an independent agency that helps protect the merit-based civil service, ensures an effective and accountable federal government, and safeguards the workplace rights of federal employees. The MSPB, which also adjudicates cases involving whistleblower retaliation and alleged wrongdoing by federal employees, has suffered from longstanding vacancies for nearly 5 years. These vacancies have led to a serious backlog of cases and prevented federal employees who have appealed charges of wrongdoing from having their cases heard – including federal workers in Michigan.

“The MSPB protects the merit system principles and promotes a highly qualified, diverse federal workforce that is fairly and effectively managed and that provides excellent service to the American people,” said Peters during his opening statement.

Peters continued: “Prolonged vacancies on the Board slow the administration of justice, and, for years, vacancies on the MSPB have prevented federal employees from obtaining relief from prohibited personnel practices.”

To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks, click here. For text of Peters’ opening remarks, as prepared, click here.

To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions, click here.

During the hearing Peters raised the important role MSPB plays in ensuring that dedicated federal workers are able to effectively serve the American people. This issue has become increasingly important as Michiganders and Americans continue to rely on government services to get them through the ongoing public health and economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Peters also asked how the nominees will efficiently work through a backlog of nearly 3,300 cases without sacrificing the quality of their decisions. These federal employees have been waiting years for decisions that impact their livelihood or access to retirement and health care benefits. The Committee also heard how the nominees will protect whistleblower rights and ensure that whistleblowers do not face retaliation within the federal government.