I call it the two crash rule: It takes two disasters for Congress to protect whistleblowers.
For example, for years airline pilots pleaded for Congress to enact modest protections for airline employees who exposed safety concerns. Year in and year out legislation was introduced, but stalled or was ignored. Then, in 2000, two Alaskan Airlines jets crashed. Only after two plane crashes were the whistleblower protections enacted. The same story holds true for almost every other federal whistleblower law. Disasters prompted action – but in each case the legislative response was limited to fixing the crisis at hand.
How many more disasters are needed to provide real whistleblower protection for all American workers? How many more billions lost in various schemes (such as the home mortgage fiasco)? How many tainted products will be imported into America? How many more taxpayer dollars will be wasted or swindled by contractors in Iraq?
Since January, 2007 numerous whistleblower protection laws have been introduced into Congress. But since the Democratic takeover of Congress only one whistleblower protection proposal has actually passed. This law provides enhanced protections for truck and bus drivers who complain about safety risks.
Obviously, truck drivers need whistleblower protection, but what about the tens of millions of employees who remain completely unprotected?
Congress needs to enact a comprehensive national whistleblower protection law, a law which will provide all legitimate whistleblowers with adequate legal protections.
Below is the list of whistleblower protection laws are currently pending in Congress. They all deserve our support. But why has no member of Congress introduced a national whistleblower protection act, which would protect all honest employees who expose violations of law or threats to the public safety? Why are most whistleblowers still without any adequate protection under federal law? When will Congress finally act?
Here is a list of the major whistleblower protection proposals introduced into Congress since January, 2007. As of today, none of these laws have passed:
- CPSC Reform Act of 2007, S.2045, Section 22 (Consumer safety whistleblower protection).
- SAFE Drug Act, H.R.1165, Section 3 (Drug safety whistleblower protection).
- The Judicial Transparency and Ethics Enhancement Act of 2007, H.R.785, Section 1026, and S.461, Section 1026 (whistleblower protections for judicial branch employees).
- The Whistleblower Recovery Act of 2007, H.R.3180 (closing loophole in order to protect employees who expose fraud on the U.S. taxpayers).
- The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007, H.R.985 (federal employee whistleblower protection).
- Nurse and Patient Safety and Protection Act of 2007, H.R.378, SEC. 4(d) (providing whistleblower protection for the disclosure patient abuse).
- Consumer Food Safety Act of 2007, H.R. 3624, SEC. 419 (Food safety whistleblower protections)
- Safe Food Act of 2007, S. 654, SEC. 407 (Food safety whistleblower protections)
- Federal Employee Protection Act, S. 274 (modest protection for a limited class of federal employee whistleblowers)
- U.S. Troop Readiness, Veteran’s Health, and Iraq Accountability Act, 2007, H.R. 1591, SEC. 543 and the Small Business and Work Opportunity Act of 2007, S. 349, SEC. 213 (whistleblower protection regarding disclosure of tax fraud).
- Private Sector Whistleblower Protection Streamlining Act of 2007, H.R. 4047 (protections for private sector employees).
- National Defense Authorization Act, FY 2008, S. 1548, sec. 861 (Defense contractor protections).
- False Claims Act Correction Act of 2007, S. 2041 (closing loopholes in False Claims Act which currently permit corrupt federal contractors to escape liability).