Right out of the gate of the 117th Congress, the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan example of strengthening our government’s system of checks and balances: the Inspector General Protection Act, sponsored by Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Jody Hice (R-Ga.).
The bill, which was approved on Tuesday by voice vote, would require the executive branch to notify Congress before altering an IG’s personnel status, such as placing an IG on administrative leave, and provide Congress an explanation for failing to nominate an IG after an extended vacancy. These changes would help ensure that the executive branch includes qualified watchdogs to hold agencies accountable and provide transparency to the American people.
The legislation’s text is here.
As Rep. Lieu has noted, efforts to “sideline inspectors general” has “plagued both Democratic and Republican administrations.” The same can be said of several “democracy reform” issues that Congress will take up this year.
On that note, the IG Protection Act is a provision of the Protecting Our Democracy Act. PODA is a broad reform package which would help make clear that no president is above the law or the Constitution, as well as create new guardrails in areas where President Trump and his predecessors abused their power—and where his successors could imitate him without Congress putting up new barriers. The IG Protection Act shows how similar reforms in PODA should provide a bipartisan opportunity for collaboration and problem-solving.