[Congressional Record Volume 162, Number 18 (Monday, February 1, 2016)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E81-E82]



                       HON. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON

                      of the district of columbia

                    in the house of representatives

                        Monday, February 1, 2016

  Ms. NORTON. Mr. Speaker, today, as hundreds of thousands of our 
federal workers face

[[Page E82]]

uncertainty in wages and work, I rise along with my House colleague 
Robert J. Wittman to introduce a bill to clarify certain due process 
rights of federal employees serving in sensitive positions. Our bill 
would overturn an unprecedented federal court decision, Kaplan v. 
Conyers and MSPB, which stripped many federal employees of the right to 
independent review of an agency decision removing them from a job on 
grounds of ineligibility. The case was brought by two Department of 
Defense (DOD) employees, Rhonda Conyers, an accounting technician, and 
Devon Northover, a commissary management specialist, who were 
permanently demoted and suspended from their jobs after they were found 
to no longer be eligible to serve in noncritical sensitive positions. 
In 2014, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, which allowed the 
appeals court decision to stand.
  Specifically, the decision prevents federal workers who are 
designated as ``noncritical sensitive'' from appealing to the Merit 
Systems Protection Board (MSPB) if they are removed from their jobs. 
Noncritical sensitive jobs include those that do not have access to 
classified information. The decision would affect at least 200,000 DOD 
employees who are designated as noncritical sensitive. Even more 
seriously, most federal employees could potentially lose the same right 
to an independent review of an agency's decision because of a rule by 
the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of the Director 
of National Intelligence (ODNI), which went into effect in July 2015, 
that permits agency heads to designate most jobs in the federal 
government as noncritical sensitive.
  The Kaplan decision undercuts Title 5, section 7701 of the Civil 
Service Act, which ensures due process rights for federal workers 
required by the U.S. Constitution. Stripping employees whose work does 
not involve classified matters of the right of review of an agency 
decision that removes them from their jobs opens entirely new avenues 
for unreviewable, arbitrary action or retaliation by an agency head 
and, in addition, makes a mockery of whistleblower protections enacted 
in the 112th Congress. My bill would stop the use of ``national 
security'' to repeal a vital component of civil service protection and 
of due process.
  I urge my colleagues to support this bill.