WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, this week joined Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon to introduce legislation giving whistleblower protections to those who work in Congress. The legislation comes during “Sunshine Week,” a national initiative to promote open government and freedom of information.
“It’s important that Congress lead by example—it’s ridiculous to have and advocate for whistleblower protections across the federal government and not have those same protections in place for Congressional staff,” said McCaskill, former Missouri State Auditor. “Our staff can be in a unique position to identify and report waste, fraud, and abuse and protecting them from retaliation is critically important.”
The bill amends the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to establish a process for whistleblowers who work in Congress to disclose waste, fraud, and abuse without worrying about getting fired or retaliated against. The legislation is modeled after existing law that protects whistleblowers in executive branch agencies.
Since her days as Missouri’s State Auditor, McCaskill has long focused her efforts on weeding out waste, fraud, and abuse. This week, the Office of Special Counsel Reauthorization Act of 2017 also passed unanimously out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The bill increases accountability and expands the Office of Special Counsel’s ability to investigate whistleblower retaliation complaints, in addition to reauthorizing the agency through 2022. Previously, McCaskill expanded whistleblower protections to government contractors, subcontractors, and others who the federal government directly or indirectly hires through bipartisan bills that have been signed into law. McCaskill also continues to make clear her support for protecting federal whistleblowers, and last year, she partnered with Senators Ron Johnson and Chuck Grassley to pass a bill further empowering inspectors general to conduct oversight targeting waste, fraud, and abuse.