The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Bill would require agencies to fire feds who invoke Fifth Amendment

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The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), would also give congressional panels the authority to terminate employment “if three-fourths of the congressional body that heard the testimony finds that a federal worker willfully or knowingly gave false testimony during a hearing.”

“This legislation is constitutional and necessary to enable Congress to provide proper oversight for the American people,” Brooks told The Hill newspaper on Friday.

The proposal comes in response to actions taken by Lois Lerner, the IRS official who invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the IRS targeting controversy.

“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.

The IRS placed Lerner on paid administrative leave last month. She had directed the IRS division that deals with tax-exempt groups, the likes of which the agency subjected to inappropriate screening during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.

Republicans called on Lerner to resign after she invoked her Fifth Amendment right. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has said that acting IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel asked Lerner to leave her position and that she had refused, prompting the agency to place her on leave.

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