Rep. Blake Farenthold believes that any government employee drawing a taxpayer-funded salary who is uncooperative with Congress should not be allowed
to cash their paycheck.
On April 10, the Texas Republican and member of the House Oversight Committee introduced the "Contempt Act,"
which would in essence direct the employer of any officer or employee of the federal government who is in contempt of Congress to not pay compensation to the officer or employee while he or she remains in contempt.
Farenthold told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV that if passed, the law would hold government employees accountable to their employer in similar fashion as in civilian businesses nationwide.
"If I were in contempt of my boss in the private sector, I don't imagine I would be getting my paycheck very long either," Farenthold said.
"Unfortunately, it's much more difficult to fire federal employees than it is in the private sector. So let's get this law in place that says if you're not cooperating with Congress, who's basically the board of directors of the United States, you don't get paid."
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The introduction of this bill is a targeted jab at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who in 2012 became the first ever sitting cabinet member to be held in contempt by House Republicans for his non-compliance in releasing documents related to the federal gun-walking operation known as Fast and Furious.
Farenthold waived his time to question Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on April 8, arguing that any other member of the public who refused to comply with a Justice Department subpoena "would be in jail."
"Despite this fact," Farenthold wrote in a statement introducing his bill, "[Holder] is still receiving his paycheck courtesy of American taxpayers. The American people should not be footing the bill for federal employees who stonewall Congress or rewarding government officials' bad behavior. If the average American failed to do his or her job, he or she would hardly be rewarded. High-ranking government officials should be treated no differently than everyone else."
Farenthold indicated it was also possible for the House Appropriations Committee to also chip away at funding the attorney general's office as further consequence for Holder's noncompliance.
"That is one of the things I am hoping to accomplish with this Contempt Act," Farenthold said. "Rather than passing on its own, a sentence or two out of it saying if you're in contempt you don’t get paid, can be put in every appropriations bill and become enacted that way. There is more than one way to make this happen."
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