By Maya Efrati
In a show of bicameral bipartisanship, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have introduced bills to declare July 30th, 2019 as National Whistleblower Appreciation Day. The Senate has passed similar resolutions each year since 2013; the House introduced a resolution in 2018. Whistleblower advocates hope to see both the Senate and the House pass these resolutions in 2019, forming a clear call from Congress for celebrating whistleblowers.
The resolution traces the importance of whistleblowers back to before the passage of the Bill of Rights, when “10 sailors and marines blew the whistle on fraud and misconduct that was harmful to the United States.” In fact, it was the Continental Congress that passed America’s first whistleblower law during the height of the American Revolution on July 30th, 1778. In the centuries since, whistleblowers have proven to be a crucial component to fighting crime, fraud, corruption, and other criminal behaviors. Our system of accountability relies on brave individuals stepping forward with the truth. And whistleblowers have brought in billions of dollars to U.S. government coffers as well.
Both resolutions were introduced by bipartisan groups of Congressmembers. The House resolution, H. Res. 240, was introduced by Reps. Speier (D-NY), Cummings (D-MD), Meadows (R-NC), and Rice (D-NY), all of whom serve as Co-Chairs of the House Whistleblower Protection Caucus, and Reps. Norton (D-DC) and Titus (D-NV). The Senate resolution, S. Res. 194, was introduced by Sen. Grassley (R-IA), a strong advocate over his decades in Senate leadership for whistleblowers, with ten additional co-sponsors: Sens. Wyden (D-OR), Markey (D-MA),Tillis (R-NC), Baldwin (D-WI), Fischer (R-NE), Peters (D-MI), Boozman (R-AR), Carper (D-DE), Ernst (D-IA) and Johnson (R-WI).
In events scheduled around the July 30th anniversary, whistleblower advocates are gearing up to honor whistleblowers. The National Whistleblower Center hosts an annual National Whistleblower Day luncheon, with supporters invited to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of whistleblowers around the world. The organization also encourages supporters around the country to urge their Members of Congress to support the resolutions and recognize National Whistleblower Day. Members of the Make It Safe Coalition, comprised of whistleblower advocacy groups and whistleblowers themselves, hold an annual, multi-day conference known as the Whistleblower Summit on Capitol Hill, with the 2019 theme “True North – Persevering in the Pursuit of Justice.” The 2019 conference also includes a film festival as well.
Whistleblowers are a vital resource for good government, accountability, and ensuring that the strength of our democracy. The bipartisan introduction of National Whistleblower Day resolutions by both the House and the Senate speaks to the importance of honoring whistleblowers and celebrating their contribution. But an introduction is not enough: passing both of the resolutions on a bipartisan basis will serve as a call to action for future whistleblowers to come forward, and a statement to today’s whistleblowers that their sacrifices are not in vain.
Maya Efrati is Policy Counsel at National Whistleblower Center.