GOP bill would allow leave without pay for officials under investigation

House Republicans plan to advance a package of bills this month in response to the recent Internal Revenue Service controversies involving inappropriate scrutiny of conservative groups and lavish spending on a 2010 conference in Anaheim.

(J.Scott Applewhite/AP)
(J.Scott Applewhite/AP)

One of the measures, bound to meet with opposition from the federal workforce, would allow agencies to place senior career officials on paid or unpaid leave while they are under investigation for abuses.

Another proposal in the GOP package would require agency leaders to approve government conferences and hold them accountable for over-the-top spending on such events.

Among the other measures: One would allow citizens to record their conversations with federal enforcement officials and another would prohibit the IRS from enforcing the insurance mandate from President Obama’s health-care law.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) outlined the bills during the weekly Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday. “The public feels a growing sense of distrust of what this administration and what Washington is doing,” he told reporters after the meeting.

The proposal to allow unpaid leave for senior executives may sound like another Republican attempt to score points on the IRS scandals, but the House passed a similar measure last year. That bill died in the Senate.

A Washington Post report in December showed that federal agencies sometimes pay employees for years while the workers are on leave and under investigation for wrongdoing.

The Senior Executives Association, a group that advocates for government officials, has criticized the unpaid-leave proposal.

“This is a bill that declares Senior Executives guilty until proven innocent and does nothing to address the issues at the heart of these so-called scandals,” said association president Carol Bonosaro. “The bill’s provision taking away Merit Systems appeals rights may be unconstitutional and carries with it a serious risk of politicizing the career Senior Executive Service.”

To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, friend his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comFor more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. E-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.
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Josh Hicks · July 9, 2013