GOP lawmaker proposes Lerner rule

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) on Thursday proposed legislation that would require federal workers to be fired if they don't answer questions from Congress.

The bill is a reaction to Lois Lerner, the IRS official who refused to answer questions about the IRS's targeting of conservative groups during a congressional hearing last month. Lerner told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, "I have not done anything wrong," then invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on the advice of her lawyers.

Lerner was asked to leave the hearing, but she left Republicans fuming and prompted calls for her resignation and the resignation of any official who refuses to answer questions from Congress. She is now on paid administrative leave.

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"This is a statement which should not be made by federally appointed officials before a congressional hearing if they are faithfully carrying out the duties of their office," Brooks told The Hill on Friday of Lerner's decision to plead the Fifth.

"That is why I am introducing H.R. 2458, which would terminate the employment of any federal employee who refuses to answer questions before a congressional hearing or lies before a congressional hearing," he said. "This legislation is constitutional and necessary to enable Congress to provide proper oversight for the American people."

Brooks's bill says simply, "Any federal employee who refuses to answer questions in a congressional hearing after being granted immunity shall be terminated from employment."

It also requires the termination of federal workers who don't testify in some cases even when they have not been granted immunity. It also allows Congress to have a say on worker terminations: If three-fourths of the congressional body that heard the testimony finds that a federal worker willfully or knowingly gave false testimony during a hearing, then that employee would be fired.