Buchanan calls on Senate to approve stronger whistleblower protection bill

Noting that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal may have remained hidden without employees exposing fraud, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) called for passage of stronger whistleblower protections on Monday.

The House of Representatives previously approved the Thoroughly Investigating Retaliation Against Whistleblowers Act, H.R. 4639, with Buchanan’s support. Buchanan said on Monday that the Senate must now approve the bill.

The legislation would provide funding for the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), an independent agency that investigates allegations of retaliation against whistleblowers and upholds the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989.

“We should reward people who disclose government abuse, not punish them,” Buchanan said. “Whistleblowers have saved lives by exposing gross negligence and misconduct at veterans’ hospitals, airports and hospitals, among other places.”

The measure would also clarify that the OSC has the authority to access any record or information available within its jurisdiction to help investigate allegations of retaliation or misconduct.

“Intimidation of whistleblowers must not be tolerated,” Buchanan said. “The men and women who expose government misconduct are helping us make the bureaucracy work better for the American people. Congress needs to make sure that they’re protected from retaliation.”

The OSC has seen a “substantial and steady surge” in the number of federal employees alleging prohibited personnel practices, including retaliation for whistle blowing, according to a recent OSC report.

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