House Passes Stop Government Abuse Reforms

Published: Aug 1, 2013

WASHINGTON—On a vote of 239-176, the House of Representatives today adopted H.R. 2879, the Stop Government Abuse Act. H.R. 2879 incorporates three separate bills approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week.

The bill includes three key areas of reform:

Guarantees Consent to Record from Federal Regulators: The legislation guarantees that Americans have the right to record meetings and phone calls with federal regulators engaged in enforcement activities. The legislation does not preempt state law.

Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla.: “With bigger and more intrusive government, it’s time we empower citizens with tools like this to accurately record their conversations and interactions with federal bureaucrats.”

• Establishes Unpaid Leave Option for Federal Officials Under Investigation: The legislation allows agencies to place senior employees on unpaid leave when they are under investigation for certain serious offenses. Similar legislation unanimously passed the House of Representatives last year but died in the Senate.

Economic Growth Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.: “When a senior federal official has committed severely inappropriate or illegal acts, taxpayers want to know why those officials end up on months and months of paid leave. The Stop Government Abuse Act will help us hold accountable federal officials who betray the trust of the American people.”

• Limits Federal Employee Bonuses During Sequestration: The legislation limits the size of bonuses to federal workers and limits the percentage of senior agency employees who may receive awards in any given year when sequestration is in effect.

Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements Subcommittee Chairman James Lankford, R-Okla.: “While federal employees who do their jobs well should be appropriately compensated, bonuses designed to reward high performance are today treated like entitlements for many senior federal executives. Especially while our federal employees are furloughed due to sequestration and we continue to face a nearly $17 trillion national debt, it is important we place common-sense limitations on bonuses for federal executives whose average salaries are $168,000.”

Yesterday, the House approved by voice vote two other bills approved by the Oversight Committee last week.

H.R. 313, the Government Spending Accountability Act of 2013– sponsored by Chairman Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. The legislation caps federal non-military travel spending and requires detailed itemized report of federal conference spending. The Committee accepted an amendment which would allow agency heads to issue a waiver for international conferences that would exceed the attendance cap, and an amendment to establish a minimum threshold for detailed conference reporting.

Federal Workforce Subcommittee Chairman Blake Farenthold, R-Texas: “The point of this bill is not to eliminate federal conferences. If federal employees are on these conferences to work, then their expenses will reflect that. What we don’t want to happen is the government paying for federal employee’s vacations. Expenses like mind readers, clowns, line dancing lessons and a star trek video are not a good use of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

H.R. 1660, the Government Customer Service Improvement Act, introduced by Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, and Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, was adopted by a voice vote. The legislation requires agencies to adopt customer service standards and to use customer service feedback in agency and personnel reviews.

National Security Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.: “American taxpayers are not just customers of the federal government, they are the owners. We have to ask ourselves: are the American people getting the quality of service from the federal government for which they are paying so much? The answer, sadly, is no. It’s our responsibility to fix that.”