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Jan. 28, 2009

Whistleblower Rights Amendment to Receive Vote During Stimulus Debate Today

A Joint Statement by GAP, the American Federation of Government Employees, Common Cause, National Whistleblower Center, NELA, POGO, Public Citizen, Union of Concerned Scientists

(Washington, D.C) - Today, our seven organizations strongly urge all members of the House of Representatives to pass a bipartisan amendment that would bring genuine accountability and oversight to the stimulus spending bill, H.R. 1. We applaud Representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Todd R. Platts (R-PA) for offering an amendment to expand and strengthen protections for federal workers charged with safeguarding the public trust and taxpayer dollars.

Click here to read the amendment.

The Platts/Van Hollen Whistleblower Amendment is identical to the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (H.R. 985), which passed by a large bipartisan vote of 331-94 in the previous Congress on March 14, 2007. In a letter of support for this proposal, a broad coalition of more than 260 organizations representing millions of individuals stressed:

"Whistleblower protection is a foundation for any change in which the public can believe. It does not matter whether the issue is economic recovery, prescription drug safety, environmental protection, infrastructure spending, national health insurance, or foreign policy. We need conscientious public servants willing and able to call attention to bureaucratic corruption on behalf of the taxpayers."

Click here to read the letter, sent on Monday, January 26.

Our groups are deeply concerned about the economic crisis and its impact on individuals and families. Because so many Americans are suffering the consequences of a contracting economy, it is now more important than ever that we have transparency and accountability for every tax dollar spent. The Van Hollen/Platts amendment sets a new, best practices standard for transparency through accountability. Most significant, it creates a permanent shield for federal employee and contractor whistleblowers who challenge any misspending, and it will keep protecting taxpayers long after stimulus funds are gone. 
 
While the stimulus bill in its current form provides protections for federal contractors and state and local employees, it does not cover federal workers. Congress should not stop short of ensuring federal employees the same protections. The Platts/Van Hollen amendment closes the gap and provides essential protection for all federal workers. It's time for Congress to enact whistleblower rights and accountability measures before the taxpayers' money is spent. Our groups agree: By supporting the Platts/Van Hollen amendment, Members of Congress are not just protecting whistleblowers; they are protecting the taxpayers.

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