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WASHINGTON — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced nine bills Wednesday, including S. 579, the Inspector General Empowerment Act, a bill to amend the Inspector General Act of 1978.  This legislation would strengthen the independence of inspectors general, the federal government’s independent watchdogs, by authorizing them to write testimonial subpoenas for federal government contractors and former federal employees and to review computer matching data without first going through the agencies they oversee. It also would improve the way misconduct by Office of Inspector General officials is investigated and would promote more transparency and cooperation between the offices and Congress.

Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) successfully amended the Inspector General Empowerment Act to require inspectors general to post all reports on their websites within three days of their being submitted in final form to the head of an agency. In cases where inspectors general make recommendations for changes, they would have to submit the reports to the head of the agency and to the appropriate committees in Congress. The amendments were approved by voice vote.  [Videos available here and here]

The nine bills that were reported favorably to the full Senate were:

S. 579, the Inspector General Empowerment Act, as amended

H.R. 460, the Human Trafficking Detection Act

H.R. 615, the Department of Homeland Security Interoperable Communications Act, as amended

S. 614, the Federal Improper Payments Coordination Act

S. 558, the Presidential Library Donations Act

S. 565, the Federal Vehicle Repair Costs Savings Act

S. 546, the RESPONSE Act of 2015

S. 242, the Wounded Warriors Federal Leave Act of 2015

S. 136, the Gold Star Fathers Act

Senator Johnson’s submitted opening statement can be found here. In further informal remarks, the chairman praised Democratic and Republican members of the committee “for really working to accomplish that aspirational goal I set out . . . of trying to find those types of bills where we do have agreement.”

 

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