Congressman Would Fire Feds Who Don’t Answer His Questions

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., has introduced a bill that would fire any federal employee who refuses to answer questions or gives false testimony at a congressional hearing. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., has introduced a bill that would fire any federal employee who refuses to answer questions or gives false testimony at a congressional hearing. Flickr user acuconservative

Think twice before pleading the Fifth. 

So says Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., who has introduced a bill that would fire any federal employee who refuses to answer questions or gives false testimony at a congressional hearing.

Brooks wrote the legislation after Lois Lerner, director of the tax-exempt organizations division of the Internal Revenue Service, declined to answer questions at a hearing about the agency’s targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.

“I’ve been advised by my counsel to assert my constitutional right not to testify or answer questions related to the subject matter of this hearing,” Lerner said at the May hearing.

Brooks took issue with this approach.

“This is a statement which should not be made by federally appointed officials before a congressional hearing if they are faithfully carrying out the duties of their office,” he said in a statement to Government Executive. “That is why I am introducing H.R. 2458, which would terminate the employment of any federal employee who refuses to answer questions before a Congressional hearing or lies before a congressional hearing. This legislation is constitutional and necessary to enable Congress to provide proper oversight for the American people.”

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects witnesses from being forced to incriminate themselves through testimony.

This bill would terminate any employee who refuses to answer questions at a congressional hearing after being granted immunity, employees who do not answer specific and narrow questions related to their official duties -- even if they are not offered immunity -- or an employee who “willfully or knowingly” give false information, as determined by three-fourths of the body to whom the testimony was given. 

(Image via Flickr user acuconservative)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.