Bipartisan Group Introduces Legislation to Ensure the Integrity and Independence of Administrative Law Judges
Washington, D.C. (May 1, 2019)—Today, a bipartisan group of Members introduced a bill to restore administrative law judges (ALJs) to the competitive service and ensure that their appointments are based on competency and merit-based standards.
The legislation was sponsored by Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA), House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL), Oversight and Reform Subcommittee Chairman Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support Chairman Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA), Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security Chairman John Larson (D-CT), and Rules Committee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK).
The Members issued the following joint statement:
“We are pleased to introduce this legislation to ensure the integrity and impartiality of decisions that affect the lives of millions of Americans. These decisions have a significant impact on their Social Security, Medicare, workers’ compensation, and veterans’ benefits, as well as claims of discrimination, unfair labor practices, and securities fraud. Lives would be disrupted if independent adjudicators were replaced by partisan judges whose appointments were based on politics. Congress would not be fulfilling its Constitutional duty of oversight if it allowed the politicization of the corps of independent adjudicators who are responsible for protecting the due process rights of the American people.”
H.R. 2429, the ALJ Competitive Service Restoration Act is intended to restore the status quo prior to implementation of Executive Order 13843, which removed ALJs from the competitive service and moved them into the excepted service. This change allowed federal agencies to appoint ALJs based on politics and nepotism, risking a return to the spoils system that would compromise the impartiality of administrative decision making.
Approximately 2,000 ALJs render more than a million decisions each year while serving in federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration, Departments of Labor, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Interior, Agriculture, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the National Labor Relations Board.
The bill has been endorsed by the following organizations:
Federal Administrative Law Judges Conference
National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives
Social Security Works & Strengthen Social Security Coalition
Social Security Task Force of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities
International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.
National Federation of Federal Employees