Senate Bill Would Fire Federal Employees Who Refuse to Testify

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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A new bill introduced by Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., would strip federal employees of their Fifth Amendment rights by firing anyone who refuses to testify or answer questions at a congressional hearing.

The bill states: "Any federal employee who refuses to answer questions in a congressional hearing after being granted immunity shall be terminated from employment."

Calling it the Lerner Rule, The Hill reported the measure is in response to IRS employee, Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions at a congressional hearing in May on allegations that the agency targeted tea party groups applying for nonprofit status during the 2012 election season.

Lerner pleaded the Fifth. Republicans were furious when she left the hearing and called for her resignation. Lerner is now on paid administrative leave.

"This is a statement which should not be made by federally appointed officials before a congressional hearing if they are faithfully carrying out the duties of their office," Brooks told The Hill on Friday. "That is why I am introducing HR 2458, which would terminate the employment of any federal employee who refuses to answer questions before a congressional hearing or lies before a congressional hearing."

The bill would also terminate a federal employee who will not testify in some cases, even if they were not granted immunity from prosecution. The measure would let Congress decide is someone "willfully or knowingly gave false testimony" by a three-fourths vote.

"This legislation is constitutional and necessary to enable Congress to provide proper oversight for the American people,” Brooks said.

The IRS inspector general undertook a year-long investigation that found an agency office did knowingly target conservative groups seeking nonprofit status. The audit, however, did not find any evidence that Washington authorized or ordered the targeting.

Sources: The Hill, Fox News