Why I’m introducing a bill to help protect inspectors general

Less than a year after the law was enacted, President Barack Obama, who co-sponsored the legislation as a senator, violated it by failing to detail why he fired the inspector general of AmeriCorps, Gerald Walpin, beyond vaguely citing a loss of confidence. I pushed the administration to provide more detailed reasons and held up an agency nominee until I got more information.

Fast-forward to 2020. President Trump fired two inspectors general, citing loss of confidence. Again, I pushed for more information. And again, I blocked nominees to force compliance with the law — a move that shouldn’t have surprised anybody familiar with my largely lonesome, four-decade crusade to promote government oversight.

In the end, both presidents provided some dubious rationales for firing the watchdogs, and in both cases the outcome remained unchanged. That’s because the Constitution clearly gives the president sole authority to manage executive branch staff. The 2008 law sought to deter IG removals for reasons beyond their own failure to effectively oversee their agencies.