Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) on Thursday proposed legislation that would require federal workers to be fired if they don't answer questions from Congress.
The bill is a reaction to Lois Lerner, the IRS official who refused to answer questions about the IRS's targeting of conservative groups during a congressional hearing last month. Lerner told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "I have not done anything wrong," then invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on the advice of her lawyers.
Lerner was asked to leave the hearing, but she left Republicans fuming and prompted calls for her resignation and the resignation of any official who refuses to answer questions from Congress. She is now on paid administrative leave.
Firing federal workers who don’t answer Congress’ questions would certainly be a better idea than providing them with a paid vacation. The bill would also allow three-quarters of a Congressional committee to fire a federal worker if they felt the worker provided willfully false testimony. You can read the 2 page (!) bill here (pdf). There are probably some Constitutional issues with members of the legislative branch firing employees of the executive branch, but the bill has very little chance of actually passing anyway. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see Congress hasn’t turned into a complete potted plant just yet. We'll see if this one goes anywhere.