(I totally stole this from The General...)
Via TPMMuckraker: Gotta love those "centrists"!
Sen. Susan Collins, the Maine GOP dealmaker who's been in the limelight this week for helping to pass a watered down stimulus, has been talking a good game about the need to avoid wasting taxpayer money. But it looks like Collins also worked today to strip from the final bill a measure that's crucial to exposing that waste.
Here's what happened:
The House stimulus bill contained a provision designed to protect federal whistleblowers. Currently, those protections are shockingly weak. According to the Project On Government Oversight, whistleblowers who are fired or demoted can file a complaint with a government board -- but over the last eight years, that board has ruled in favor of whistleblowers only twice in 55 cases.
More to the point, the protections were designed to encourage federal workers to point out cases where taxpayer money is subject to waste, fraud, or abuse -- a legitimate concern when Congress spends $800 billion, and one that centrists and Republicans have been particularly exercised about.
Yesterday, 20 members of the House, from both parties, yesterday sent a letter to House negotiators urging them to ensure that the protections remained.
But, according to a person following the bill closely, Collins used today's conference committee to drastically water down the measure, citing national security concerns as the reason for her opposition. In the end, the protections were so weakened that House negotiators balked, and the result was that the entire amendment was removed.
According to the person following the bill, Collins was the "central roadblock" to passing the protections.
But wait, here's the good part!
So when, in the coming months, conservatives start jumping up and down over the fact that money from the stimulus bill is being wasted, as they surely will, it's worth remembering that a key measure designed to help expose that waste was removed from taken out of the bill -- and by a senator said to be a champion of fiscal discipline.