Top House Democrats Introduce Legislation To Protect Inspectors General From Political Retaliation

May 26, 2020 Issues: Committee on Oversight and Reform, National Security

Washington, D.C. – Last week, U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, U.S. Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and U.S. Representative Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, introduced the Inspector General Independence Act to protect Inspectors General across the Executive Branch from being fired as a result of political retaliation.

“From identifying lapses in our national biodefense to curbing waste, fraud, and abuse in Afghanistan, the work performed by federal inspectors general is critical to U.S. national security.  And for the trillions of taxpayer dollars being spent right now, the inspector general is the cop on the beat,” said Chairman Lynch.  “President Trump’s relentless attacks against these honest and dedicated government watchdogs are contrary to our fundamental democratic values.  This legislation will safeguard inspector generals from political retaliation and ensure they are able to prevent the theft and misuse of American taxpayer dollars.”

“As the Chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, I know first-hand how critical it is to have experienced, competent, and independent Inspectors General at each agency,” said Chairwoman Maloney.  “Unfortunately, this bill has become necessary because the Trump Administration has launched a campaign against Inspectors General for doing their jobs, for investigating waste, fraud, and abuse, for reporting the truth, and for holding this Administration accountable.”

“It is critical that Congress protect the independence and integrity of inspectors general across federal agencies, who play an essential role in holding government officials accountable to the law and to the American people they serve,” said Leader Hoyer.  “I commend Chairwoman Maloney for her leadership on this issue, and I’m proud to have worked with her to develop this important bill aimed at upholding the rule of law and its faithful execution.”

“The Trump administration has repeatedly demonstrated complete disregard for independent oversight,” said Chairman Connolly.  “This legislation will protect Inspectors General from undue political interference and retribution for simply carrying out their responsibilities. The independence of IGs is essential to accountability that is essential to our democracy. Silence and inaction by Congress will only embolden this reckless behavior.”

President Trump has removed or replaced numerous Inspectors General who oversee various agencies in what appears to be retaliation for investigating misconduct of his own Administration, including the Intelligence Community IG, the State Department IG, the Acting Transportation Department IG, the Acting Health and Human Services IG, and the Acting Pentagon IG who was chosen to serve as the head of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee created by Congress on March 27, 2020.

The Inspector General Independence Act would allow an Inspector General to be removed only for the following causes and would require documentation of that cause to be reported directly to Congress:

  • documented permanent incapacity,
  • documented neglect of duty,
  • documented malfeasance,
  • documented conviction of a felony or conduct involving moral turpitude,
  • documented knowing violation of a law or regulation,
  • documented gross mismanagement,
  • documented gross waste of funds,
  • documented abuse of authority, or
  • documented inefficiency.

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have endorsed this bill.

Click here to read the Inspector General Independence Act.