Designed to expand legal shelter to employees previously vulnerable to retaliation, the U.S. House passed a bill to modify the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 1989 to include FBI personnel on Thursday.
The bill was co-sponsored by Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
Drafted to “safeguard FBI employees who report waste, fraud, and abuse,” the proposal also included an amendment to guarantee an efficient administration of claims of retaliation and grants the Department of Justice Inspector General’s office sole authorization to probe any claim of reprisal against employees.
“HR 5790 would clarify Congress’s longstanding intent to protect whistleblowers when they make disclosures to the same supervisor who has the power to take personnel action against them,” said Chaffetz.
The measure passed with strong bipartisan support; 171 Democrats joined 233 GOP House members to vote in favor of the bill. 29 members abstained from the vote.
First passed in 1989, and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, the law intends to protect government employees who report agency misconduct from acts of revenge.
The culmination of a 2015 Government Accountability Office assessment which assailed the extended length of time required to resolve whistleblowing cases, HR 5790 is presumed to expedite cases in which employees can act without fear of retribution.