Senate Republican Blocks Attempt By Sens. Schumer And Hirono To Pass Senate Resolution Recognizing The Duty Of Congress And Executive Branch To Protect The Identity Of Whistleblowers And Safeguard Them From Retaliation

November 6, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, joined by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), today went to the Senate floor to make a unanimous consent request to immediately pass S. Res. 408, a resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that Congress, the Executive Branch, and the president have a duty to protect the identity of whistleblowers and ensure that they are not retaliated against.  Senate Republican Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked the unanimous consent request to pass this resolution, which comes amid continued and increasing threats from the Trump administration to the intelligence community whistleblower and public calls for the exposure of the whistleblower’s identity both from members of Congress and the President of the United States.

Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Now, M. President, on July 30th, 1778, the Continental Congress passed unanimously the following resolution: “Resolved, That it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States…to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states.” That’s in the Continental Congress before our nation was even formed. A duty of citizens to protect the American people from those in government who might conduct misconduct, fraud, or misdemeanors.

From the earliest days of our Republic, our government has acknowledged the vital role that whistleblowers play in ensuring good governance and rooting out corruption, malfeasance, and self-dealing.

Two nights ago, at a political rally, President Trump and a member of this chamber, the junior Senator from Kentucky, publicly and explicitly urged the press to disclose the identity of the federal whistleblower whose complaint triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. A few days later, the same junior Senator threatened to reveal the identity of the whistleblower himself.

I cannot stress enough how wrong and dangerous—dangerous—these efforts are. The United States is a nation of laws. Whistleblower laws have existed since the founding of our Republic to protect patriotic Americans who come forward and stand up for our Constitution. We don’t get to determine when these laws apply and when they don’t. We don’t get to decide if the law applies whether you like what the whistleblower said or whether you don’t. These are laws. No person—no person—is above the law. This whistleblower, whose complaint was deemed “credible” and “urgent” by a Trump appointee, is protected by these statutes. There is no legal doubt about that. Every single member of this body, every single one, should stand up and say this is wrong to disclose his or her identity.

That is what my colleague Sen. Hirono will ask us to do in a moment. Before she does so, I want to thank my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who have spoken up in defense of whistleblower protections. Some of my Republican colleagues have spent their careers defending whistleblowers. We need them today. We need these Republican colleagues—who should be here—standing up for the protection of whistleblowers. The threats we have seen over the last few days are so egregious, so egregious, they demand bipartisan outrage from one end of this chamber to the other, whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, Independent, liberal, moderate, or conservative. What’s happening here is another erosion of the values of this Republic for political expediency. Exposing the whistleblower’s identity would endanger the health and safety of them and their family. It would also be a chilling message to future patriots that they do their duty to report wrongdoing at the risk of exposure, retaliation, and retribution. Why don’t we see a single other Republican to stand up in favor of this here, today? We should.

But let us send a message today that the Senate reaffirms our nation’s longstanding tradition of defending whistleblowers. I urge every single member of the Senate to support it, and recognize somebody’s who’s been valiant in this fight to protect the duty enshrined by the Continental Congress and the Constitution. 

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