Cooper, Murphy Bill Gives More Power to Inspectors General

Apr 9, 2020
Press Release

U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today announced he is introducing legislation to give more independence to Inspectors General and allow them to do their jobs without fear of political retribution.

The bill, named the Inspectors General Independence Act, establishes seven-year terms for Inspectors General and protects them from politically-motivated firings by only allowing for removal for cause. This comes on the heels of President Trump’s removal of seven Inspectors General—including the one tasked with oversight of the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief funds.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) will introduce the Senate companion of this legislation.

“We simply cannot allow President Trump to weaponize independent oversight positions in his administration to reward his friends, punish his political enemies, and cover up wrongdoing. That’s why I am calling for Inspectors General to be appointed for seven year terms and to only allow their removal for cause. If recent events have shown us anything, it’s that we desperately need federal watchdogs to safeguard our system from political abuse by Trump and his allies,” said Sen. Murphy.

“The removal of seven Inspectors General without just cause is reckless and appears to be political retaliation,” Rep. Jim Cooper said. “An Inspector General shedding light on serious problems is a good thing; I have always said sunlight is the best disinfectant. If anything, our Inspectors General need more power, not punishment, so they can hold bad actors accountable.”

Rep. Cooper has long been involved in strengthening the federal watchdog positions. He introduced the Improving Government Accountability Act in 2007, which became the Inspector General Reform Act. The bill was signed into law in 2008, but the seven-year term and protections against political retribution were removed from the enacted version. The Inspectors General Independence Act would add back these two components from Rep. Cooper’s original bill.

Rep. Cooper’s NSA Internal Watchdog Act, which strengthened the Inspector General at the National Security Agency, was also signed into law in 2014.