Inside Politics: Obama strengthens law protecting whistleblowers

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President Obama signed legislation Tuesday that affords greater protection to federal employees who expose fraud, waste and abuse in government operations.

Capping a 13-year effort by supporters of whistleblower rights, the new law closes loopholes created by court rulings, which removed protections for federal whistleblowers. One loophole specified that whistleblowers were only protected when they were the first to report misconduct.

The law makes it easier to punish supervisors who try to retaliate against the government workers.

The federal official who investigates retaliation, Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner, said her office “stands ready to implement these important reforms, which will better ensure that no employee suffers retaliation for speaking out against government waste or misconduct.”

The new legislation, however, would go beyond restoring protections, to expand whistleblower rights and clarify certain protections. For example, whistleblowers could challenge the consequences of government policy decisions.

Specific protections would be given to certain employees, including government scientists who challenge censorship.

The bill also would clarify that whistleblowers have the right to communicate with Congress.

HOUSE

GOP recommends new committee chairmen

Top House Republicans have recommended committee chairmanships for the new Congress that convenes in January. They want Paul Ryan to head the Budget panel and have proposed seven new faces to head committees, but none of their recommendations is a woman.

The leaders proposed to waive the GOP’s six-year term limit on committee chairmanships so Mr. Ryan, the party’s losing vice presidential nominee, could return to head the Budget Committee. Several other long-term committee chairmen are being replaced, including Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has led the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, noted that three women had been selected to the party’s leadership for next year. They include Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who will be the No. 4 House GOP leader.

OHIO

State Senate leader stops restrictive abortion bill

COLUMBUS — The leader of the Ohio Senate put a stop Tuesday to a bill that would have imposed the most stringent restriction on abortions in the nation.

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