House Democrats on Thursday sought to expand whistleblower protections for federal workers who call out superiors for “improper use of air transportation,” following the mounting questions about Trump administration officials’ use of expensive forms of travel.
Lawmakers offered the proposal as part of a debate over broader whistleblower protection. It was rejected by Republicans, as expected, but forced GOP lawmakers to vote on an issue that has drawn increasing scrutiny, as several Trump Cabinet members have faced criticism for regular use of chartered or military jets.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned last month after a POLITICO investigation revealed he took hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of chartered flights, sometimes to go short distances. And other cabinet members — including Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke — have faced questions about expensive travel at taxpayer expense.
A bill under consideration — the Chris Kirkpatrick Whistleblower Protection Act — would prohibit federal employees from accessing medical records of job applicants’ or subordinates’ medical records and includes punishment for supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers. The bill also offers more training to supervisors about whistleblower protections.
Democrats offered their proposal as a “motion to recommit,” which would have sent the bill back to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to be changed to include their proposed amendment.