Cummings, Pelosi, Hoyer, and Other Senior Democrats Call on President Trump to Rescind Executive Orders that Strip Key Protections for Whistleblowers

Jun 14, 2018
Press Release

Cummings, Pelosi, Hoyer, and Other Senior Democrats

Call on President Trump to Rescind Executive Orders that

Strip Key Protections for Whistleblowers

Washington, D.C. (June 14, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and 22 other senior Democrats sent a letter calling on President Donald Trump to immediately rescind three Executive Orders targeting federal whistleblowers.


“Your Executive Orders are the most direct and systematic attack on whistleblower protections in a generation,” the Members wrote.  “They strip federal employees of procedures that were put in place to protect them against retaliation by their superiors—who are often political appointees—and they deny whistleblowers the representation of union members when they are punished for speaking the truth.  Your Executive Orders also degrade existing protections against undue partisanship in the federal workforce, allowing political appointees to terminate employees arbitrarily and without the check of meaningful collective bargaining.”


The Members who joined the letter are top House Democrats:  Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), James E. Clyburn (D-SC), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Linda Sánchez (D-CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Robert Brady (D-PA), Adam Smith (D-WA), John A. Yarmuth (D-KY), Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Richard Neal (D-MA), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Nita Lowey (D-NY), Timothy Walz (D-MN), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), James McGovern (D-MA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and Adam Schiff (D-CA).


More than twenty years ago, Congress enacted protections for whistleblowers who report waste, fraud, and abuse.  Before that, whistleblowers risked discipline, transfer, and termination in retaliation for their acts of patriotism.  Collective bargaining and union representation provide the first line of defense to federal whistleblowers, along with established procedures to protect the non-partisan professionals who make up the U.S. civil service.


“Your Executive Orders risk turning the federal workplace into a reality show environment in which they can be fired for raising concerns with potentially illegal orders, unsafe work conditions, sexual harassment, or waste, fraud, and abuse,” the Members wrote.  “Your new Executive Orders will mark the end to meaningful contract bargaining in the federal government.  They will incentivize agency managers and political appointees to impose their will and flout the legal requirement to negotiate mutually agreeable solutions.  We believe the harms caused by your Executive Orders constitute an unprecedented attack on good governance and a professional, non-partisan civil service.  For all of these reasons, we ask that you rescind them immediately.”


The Executive Orders degrade longstanding whistleblower protections by:


  • eliminating the ability of federal whistleblowers to challenge their firing in grievance proceedings before a neutral arbitrator certified by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service;


  • cutting off whistleblowers from receiving union representation by restricting the use of “official time” by union volunteers;


  • physically expelling unions from the workplace by denying employees the use of office space in federal facilities unless those spaces are also provided to charities or employees pay market-rate rent to the agency for the space;


  • overruling longstanding protections against arbitrary firing and subjecting federal employees to political favoritism;


  • directing agency managers to reopen all collective bargaining agreements for renegotiation as soon as possible;


  • imposing arbitrary deadlines for the collective bargaining process, without regard to the size or complexity of bargaining units;


  • authorizing agency managers to dictate contract terms that will not be subject to independent review; and


  • allowing agency managers to bypass mediation processes in the law, without agreement from the employees.


Today’s Democratic letter follows a similar letter sent on June 11, 2018, by 21 House Republicans also calling on President Trump to rescind his executive orders.  Their letter warned, “We are concerned that the recent Executive Orders embark upon a path that will undo many of the longstanding principles protected by law which establish checks and balances not only in the federal workplace, but for the American public.”


Click here to read today’s letter.

115th Congress