The Senate approved changes to the Hatch Act on Friday that would provide a greater range of penalties, in addition to termination, for federal employees who violate the law.
Under current law, which regulates political activity by federal and some state and local employees, a worker is fired unless the Merit Systems Protection Board unanimously agrees on a lesser penalty. The legislation, which must pass the House, would allow more flexibility, including the ability to reprimand, demote, suspend or fine an employee not more than $1,000.
Other provisions ease restrictions on state and local government employees, including District workers, who are covered by the Hatch Act.
“I am pleased the Senate approved this important legislation, which will allow more Americans the right to run for public office and serve their communities, and treat federal employees and employees of the District of Columbia more fairly,” said Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), who sponsored the bill.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said, “This bipartisan legislation makes common-sense updates to the Hatch Act. This bill will allow state and local government employees to serve their country and their communities by running for office, and it will allow for greater fairness by providing a range of penalties for Hatch Act violations.”
Cummings introduced similar legislation in the House.
“I urge the House to act swiftly to send this bill to the president’s desk,” he said.
Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.