December 7, 2016 - Issue: Vol. 162, No. 176 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 2nd Session
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2016; Congressional Record Vol. 162, No. 176
(House of Representatives - December 07, 2016)
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[Pages H7312-H7313] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTION ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2016 Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 5790) to provide adequate protections for whistleblowers at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as amended. The Clerk read the title of the bill. The text of the bill is as follows: H.R. 5790 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the ``Federal Bureau of Investigation Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016''. SEC. 2. PROHIBITED PERSONNEL PRACTICES IN THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION. Section 2303(a) of title 5, United States Code, is amended by striking ``any employee of the Bureau'' and all that follows through ``health or safety'' and inserting the following: ``an employee in, or applicant for, a position in the Bureau as a reprisal for a disclosure of information-- [[Page H7313]] ``(1) made-- ``(A) in the case of an employee, to a supervisor in the direct chain of command of the employee, up to and including the head of the employing agency; ``(B) to the Inspector General; ``(C) to the Office of Professional Responsibility of the Department of Justice; ``(D) to the Office of Professional Responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; ``(E) to the Inspection Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; ``(F) as described in section 7211; ``(G) to the Office of Special Counsel; or ``(H) to an employee designated by any officer, employee, office, or division described in subparagraphs (A) through (G) for the purpose of receiving such disclosures; and ``(2) which the employee or applicant reasonably believes evidences-- ``(A) any violation of any law, rule, or regulation; or ``(B) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety''. The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Chaffetz) and the gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Lawrence) each will control 20 minutes. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah. General Leave Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous materials on the bill under consideration. The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Utah? There was no objection. Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5790, the FBI Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2016, as amended. We have great respect and admiration for the FBI. They do wonderful work. In fact, I was always proud of my grandfather. He was a career FBI agent serving here in the Greater Washington, D.C., area and then up in Pennsylvania for a long period of time. It is because I respect the FBI and its agents that I helped introduce this bill. The whistleblower protections in the FBI have really not kept up with the rest of government. That is why we need a change here. The whistleblowers at the FBI should be treated the same as they are within the rest of the Federal Government, and this simple bill goes to help correct that. H.R. 5790 would clarify Congress' longstanding intent to protect whistleblowers when they make disclosures to the same supervisors who have the power to take personnel actions against them. While a great many changes remain to be made in how the Department of Justice and the FBI respond to whistleblowers, this clarification is not a minor one. If implemented, it would have far-reaching implications in protecting whistleblowers at the FBI just as Congress intended in 1978 in the Whistleblower Protection Act. The FBI Director, Mr. Comey, testified a year ago in the Senate that he ``very much'' supports legal protections for FBI employees who follow FBI's own policies and report wrongdoing to their supervisors. Similarly, the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, testified: ``We certainly support protecting those who report within their chain of command.'' I want to thank, in particular, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and specifically Chairman Chuck Grassley for his leadership in first introducing this version of the bill. We are also grateful for the support of my colleagues, including Representative Hakeem Jeffries, who joined me as the lead Democrat on this bill in this House. I also want to particularly thank Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a great friend and colleague and somebody who also has been very supportive of the passage of this bill. I thank him for his work and commitment on this issue. Mr. Cummings, personally and through his dedicated staff, continually has worked hand in hand on whistleblower protections, and this is no exception. Together, we have sent the message throughout the Federal Government that protecting whistleblowers is not a partisan issue, and passing this bill will not mark the end of the road for reforming whistleblower protections at the FBI. In fact, in the next Congress, I look forward to addressing other issues raised by the whistleblower community in the GAO as well as the Department of Justice. I urge my colleagues to support this bill. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time. Mrs. LAWRENCE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 5790, as amended. This bill will provide FBI employees with protection for blowing the whistle to a supervisor and make it a prohibited personnel practice to retaliate against a whistleblower for making such a disclosure. This bill will also ensure that FBI employees are protected when they blow the whistle to certain other individuals, including the Inspector General of the Department of Justice and the Office of Special Counsel. These small improvements to protect FBI whistleblowers are why I support this measure before us. The version of this bill that was reported by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee would have done much more to protect the whistleblowers at the FBI than the measure before us today. The introduced version of this bill would have strengthened the whistleblower protections for FBI employees by more closely aligning them with those of the rest of the Federal workforce. For example, it would have strengthened the appeals process for whistleblowers by requiring appellate review by the Attorney General and giving employees access to the courts. It would have defined prohibited personnel practices to be consistent with those of other Federal employees, and it would have prohibited the use of nondisclosure agreements unless the employee was fully aware of his or her rights before signing such an agreement. We should work to enact these additional improvements in the next Congress. All employees deserve strong whistleblower protections, including the employees of the FBI. Mr. Speaker, I want to say to my ranking member, Mr. Cummings, and to our chair of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, thank you for the hearings and the dedicated work to ensure that our FBI agents are protected in any case of whistleblowing. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank, again, Mrs. Lawrence. I want to thank the ranking member, Mr. Cummings. This is a good, bipartisan issue. It is really a nonpartisan issue. It is to protect Federal employees within the FBI so that they can have the whistleblower protections that, really, most of the rest of the government has, and I urge its adoption. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time. The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Chaffetz) that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 5790, as amended. The question was taken. The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds being in the affirmative, the ayes have it. Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays. The yeas and nays were ordered. The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed. ____________________