House OKs Russell-backed whistleblower protection bill
The U.S. House on Wednesday passed legislation backed by Rep. Steve Russell to expand protections for federal employees who disclose classified information to their bosses.
“Whistleblowers should be able to tell their supervisors when something is wrong,” the Oklahoma City Republican said before the vote. “That is true no matter what, but especially so in cases involving classified information, which implies a matter of national security.”
The bill, HR 2196, passed on a voice vote, a procedural tactic used for uncontroversial legislation. As a result, no vote tally was taken.
Under current law, federal employees who handle classified information can only legally share that information with direct supervisors.
HR 2196, if passed by the Senate and signed by President Donald Trump, would allow employees to share it with other supervisors or employees allowed to handle classified information in cases of illegality, gross mismanagement, waste of money, abuse of authority and danger to either public health or safety.
“If whistleblowers cannot make a protected disclosure to their supervisors, then they are more likely to make an illegal disclosure to people or entities without the proper security clearances,” Russell said.
“These additional protections will make it easier for employees to do the responsible thing when it comes to classified disclosures.”
The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass.
U.S. Rep. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City