Bill would make 'taking the Fifth' a firing offense for feds
- By Adam Mazmanian
- Jun 24, 2013
Rep. Mo Brooks has introduced legislation that would make invoking Fifth Amendment rights a firing offense for feds.
Federal employees who refuse to answer questions in congressional hearings would have their employment terminated under a new bill proposed by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).
The move comes in the wake of Internal Revenue Service Lois Lerner's appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee to testify about her role in scrutinizing the applications of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. At the hearing, Lerner delivered a brief statement, invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, and was asked to leave. Lerner is currently on administrative leave as a result.
Under Brooks' legislation, a federal employee who "refuses to answer questions specifically, directly, and narrowly relating to the official duties of such employee, without being required to waive immunity" would be terminated. The rule would also apply to employees who refused to testify before Congress even with a grant of immunity. Witnesses whose testimony was deemed to be "willfully or knowingly" false by a three-fourths majority of a committee would also be terminated.
"This legislation is constitutional and necessary to enable Congress to provide proper oversight for the American people," Brooks said in a statement to The Hill.
Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.