Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
On the Securing Inspector General Independence Act
Wednesday, May 19, 2021

 
When Congress passed the original Inspector General Act in 1978, we required a President who wants to remove an IG to provide Congress specific reasons why.
 
When Congress revised the IG Act thirty years later, we amended that notification requirement and made it even stronger.
 
We required Presidents to tell us their reasons no less than 30 days in advance.
 
Neither of these provisions did anything to prevent a President from using their constitutional authority to fire an IG.
 
Unfortunately, Presidents from both political parties seem to have a hard time following this simple notice requirement.
 
When President Obama fired IG Walpin of the Corporation for National and Community Service in 2009, he sent a vaguely worded letter saying only that he’d, “lost confidence” in Mr. Walpin.
 
When President Trump fired IGs Linick and Atkinson last year, he sent letters to Congress saying the same thing.
 
As I explained to both Presidents when they sent those letters, merely telling Congress that you have “lost confidence” in an IG isn’t enough.
 
A “loss of confidence” occurs only after something happens.
 
When announcing their decision to remove an IG from office, Presidents need to tell us what that something is.
 
They need to explain why they’ve lost confidence.
 
Failing to do so misses the point of the notice requirement entirely.
 
The notice requirement isn’t about the President’s confidence in one IG. It’s about the public’s confidence in the IG system.
 
IGs are put in office to serve as government watchdogs.
 
If IGs are carrying out their duties as intended, they are likely going to make more enemies than friends.
 
They may uncover things that make the sitting President and his political appointees uncomfortable.
 
No President is going to like every investigation that an IG undertakes, or every report they prepare.
 
But IGs should not be fired just for doing their jobs or to prevent them from releasing findings that are embarrassing to the administration.
 
Requiring the President to explain in advance why he or she is removing an IG gives Congress time to evaluate those reasons.
 
It helps assure Congress and the public that the termination isn’t based on politics, but on real problems with the IG’s ability to carry out their mission.
 
Of course, there has been no shortage of bad IGs who were deserving of removal.
 
Some of them are still in office.
 
Recently I called for the President to remove the Federal Housing Finance Agency IG due to an independent report by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency that verified longstanding claims to my office that she abused her authority.
 
Whistleblowers originally came to my office in 2015 with concerning reports the IG was personally and publicly demeaning her employees.
 
She referred to them with demeaning names such as “Weasel.”
 
The IG also allowed her Deputy to threaten employees who blew the whistle to my office.
 
That was over five years ago.
 
And can you believe it? The abuse is still happening today.
 
Based on my investigation and CIGIE’s findings, I firmly believe the IG needs to go. But I don’t get to make that decision.
 
Under the Constitution, the ultimate judgment call is reserved for the President.
 
He gets to decide when to exercise his constitutional authority. He has the right to do so, and will ultimately be held accountable for that decision by the American people.
 
All he has to do – all that is required of him under the law – is to give Congress proper notice.
 
That’s how things should work. That’s how things were designed to work.
 
But unfortunately, that’s not what’s been happening.
 
It’s clear to me that we have to be even clearer that when we say we want reasons, we actually mean it.
 
When making the decision to remove an IG, Presidents must send substantive, specific reasons to Congress in advance, explaining the actions they’re taking and why they’re taking them.
 
That’s why I introduced S. 587, the Securing Inspector General Independence Act.
 
In addition to making the notice requirement even more clear, my bill would limit who can be an IG in an acting capacity and require CIGIE to provide guidance for additional whistleblower training for all IG employees.
 
My cosponsors and I have an interest in keeping our IG system strong and neutral and that’s what this bill does.
 

I encourage all of my colleagues to support it, and ask that the Homeland Security Committee give it full consideration.