The legislation was proposed in response to President Donald Trump’s treatment of multiple IGs during his tenure.
WASHINGTON (CN) — The House passed H.R. 2662, a bill granting protections to inspectors general from political retaliation, with a 221-182 vote late Tuesday.
The bill requires lawmakers to investigate any wrongdoing against inspectors general, provides a thorough removal process for when an inspector general is terminated for cause, and requires the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to report its activities to Congress and the president, among other provisions.
U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney introduced the bill in April. “The work of inspectors general, who conduct independent oversight of federal agencies continues to be a remarkable investment for American taxpayers,” the New York Democrat said during a House debate on Tuesday. “For every dollar we spend on IGs, we get $17 back. And this return could be even higher if we gave IGs additional tools, which is exactly what this bill would do.”
The legislation was proposed in response to former President Donald Trump’s treatment of inspectors general during his administration.
Within six weeks, the president “fired or sidelined” four inspectors general “who were simply doing their jobs,” Maloney said.
On May 16, 2020, President Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick while he was investigating then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for reportedly mistreating his staff. “It is vital that I have the fullest confidence in the appointees serving as inspectors general,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the time. “That is no longer the case with regard to this inspector general.”
It was later revealed that Linick, an Obama appointee, was also investigating Trump for facilitating an $8 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
The day before, the president fired Acting Transportation Inspector General Mitch Behm while Behm was investigating Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for reportedly misusing office resources for personal matters.
President Trump also fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector general for the intelligence community, on April 3, 2020. Atkinson oversaw the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s first impeachment. He fired Acting Defense Department Inspector General Glenn Fine four days later, preventing Fine from overseeing the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which dispersed “trillions of dollars in federal spending” during the pandemic, according to Representative Maloney.
H.R. 2662 would protect inspectors general in many ways, the representative stated, but most importantly “it would protect IGs from being fired simply for doing their jobs.”
"The former Administration’s interference in the work of our government’s independent investigative officers represented a serious attack on the rule of law,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who co-sponsored the bill, said in a statement, adding that the legislation serves as “part of House Democrats’ ongoing effort to renew Americans’ faith in government by ensuring the highest standards of transparency and accountability for agencies and those who serve in public office.”
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