House OKs Russell-backed whistle­blower pro­tec­tion bill

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - BY JUSTIN WINGERTER Staff Writer jwingerter@ok­la­homan.com

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

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