A crowdsourcing initiative spurred by the Government Accountability Project and NPR’s On the Media has narrowed to two the list of senators suspected of having killed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2010 in the last Congressional session by putting a secret “emergency hold” on it.
The bill clarified existing protections for government employees who report mismanagement, wrongdoing, or waste. Both the House and the Senate had passed it unanimously, but then certain language was taken out (actually weakening the bill). Then, reportedly at the request of the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives—where secret holds aren’t possible—either Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) or Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) killed the Act, anonymously.
All other senators have been eliminated from the reporters’ suspicion. Many have responded to constituents’ demands (that’s the crowdsourcing element) that they provide a statement denying that they were the one. Kyl and Sessions are among the senators who have not done so. Both have used secret holds in the past. Kyl is not running for re-election.
Why kill an act that was so popular among both lawmakers and the public? Pressed to speculate, On the Media‘s Brooke Gladstone suggested this morning on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show that it might have something to do with government projects in certain House lawmakers’ districts, but acknowledged that that was purely a guess.
Although the bill was killed, Gladstone suggested that even if the investigation never manages to finger one specific senator, it may have had an effect: Assuming the bill is re-introduced in the current session (or a future one), public displeasure at what happened may discourage the use of a secret hold on this issue again.
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