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.

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