Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
November 17, 2020
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) sent a letter to Chairman Jim McGovern (MA-02) of the House Committee on Rules urging the adoption of a new prohibition on Members revealing the identity of whistleblowers falling under the protection of federal laws.  The proposed rule would be included in the new House Rules package for the 117th Congress.  It would make disclosure of a whistleblower's identity a violation of the House's Code of Official Conduct. 

"Without vigorous oversight that includes encouraging federal employees who see wrongdoing to report it anonymously and without fear of retribution, Congress cannot hold the executive officials, including the president and his appointees, to account or enact laws that serve the people it represents," Leader Hoyer wrote in the letter. "Members of Congress who would willfully undermine their own institution’s ability to conduct oversight by revealing or threatening to reveal the identities of whistleblowers must face consequences."

Hoyer's requested change comes after a number of Members dangerously sought to expose whistleblowers who came forward to reveal wrongdoing by Trump Administration officials over the past two years, including during the House's impeachment proceedings against the President in 2019.  Under federal law, the identities of whistleblowers are protected in order to prevent workplace retribution and to provide for the physical safety of the individuals and their families.  Such protections are essential to ensure oversight and transparency of executive departments and agencies and prevent abuses of power or the public trust.  

To read Hoyer's proposed Rule, click here

To read the full letter, click here or see below. 

--
The Honorable Jim McGovern Chairman, House Committee on Rules
U.S. House of Representatives
H-312, the Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman McGovern:

I am writing to urge you to include a provision in the House Rules package you will recommend for the 117th Congress that would subject House Members to disciplinary action when they disclose the identity of a whistleblower (see attached text).

As you will recall, many of our colleagues and much of the American public were appalled and disgusted last year to see various Members of the House and Senate threaten to out whistleblowers who, at great risk to their personal and professional security, came forward to report their concerns regarding President Trump’s July 25, 2019 conversation with Ukraine President Zelensky. There is no doubt that the purpose of these threats by sitting Members of the House and Senate was none other than to discourage federal employees, wherever they may work in the executive branch, from bringing to the attention of the U.S. Congress possible corruption and malfeasance in the federal agencies and departments in which they work.

The framers of the Constitution assigned the U.S. Congress three basic functions: to represent, to legislate, and to conduct oversight of the executive branch. Without vigorous oversight that includes encouraging federal employees who see wrongdoing to report it anonymously and without fear of retribution, Congress cannot hold the executive officials, including the president and his appointees, to account or enact laws that serve the people it represents. Members of Congress who would willfully undermine their own institution’s ability to conduct oversight by revealing or threatening to reveal the identities of whistleblowers must face consequences.

The rule I am proposing be in included in the Rules of the House of the Representatives for the 117th Congress would do just that, amending “the Rules of the House of Representatives to make the disclosure of the identity of an individual acting as a whistle blower under processes and protections provided by law a violation of the Code of Official Conduct.”

While its application would only extend to the House, it is my hope that the Senate would follow the House’s example and adopt a similar provision in its own rules.

I am prepared to work with you and House Committee chairs to ensure the rule I have proposed is written precisely enough to hold violators to account without inadvertently impinging on Committees’ ability to work with whistleblowers and conduct the vigorous oversight envisioned by the Constitution’s framers.

Thank you for your attention and with kindest regards, I am

Sincerely yours,


Steny H. Hoyer