WHISTLEBLOWERS -- Zachary Roth, in a report posted on Talking Points Memo, said yesterday that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the "centrist" dealmaker who's been in the limelight this week for helping to pass a watered down stimulus package, worked "to strip from the final bill a measure that's crucial to exposing that waste"—improved protection for federal whistleblowers.
More to the point, the protections were designed to encourage federal workers to point out cases where taxpayer money is subject to waste, fraud, or abuse -- a legitimate concern when Congress spends $800 billion, and one that centrists and Republicans have been particularly exercised about.
Yesterday, 20 members of the House, from both parties, sent a letter to House negotiators urging them to ensure that the protections remained.
The letter was signed by Californians Lynn Woolsey and Jackie Speier.
To make matter worse, Collins is the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs commitee, which, as an oversight committee, might be expected to see its role as protecting whistleblowers. She also sits on the Senate appropriations committee, giving her a strong position from which to wield influence during today's negotiations.