If passed, the measure could affect more than four million Americans, including numerous veterans and tens of thousands of Defense Department civilian employees. But the bill faces long odds of becoming law, and is certain to face significant opposition from other members of Congress whose districts include large numbers of federal workers.
Gaetz promoted the measure as a way to rein in the “weaponized” national security state. He also accused federal workers of abusing their positions to “control and influence” Americans’ political beliefs, with a bias against conservatives and former President Donald Trump.
The penalties would cover public discussion by any worker who has passed “a security clearance investigation, periodic reinvestigation, or other determination of eligibility to access classified information by an authorized adjudicative agency.”
It would not include disclosing that information for federal employment or government contracting purposes.
Gaetz made headlines this week for spearheading an effort to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., from his former Speaker of the House leadership post. The legislative proposal comes as the process for maintaining security clearances is getting an overhaul.
Earlier this week, officials from the Office of Personnel Management — which helps facilitate background investigations required to obtain and maintain clearances — announced they will expand “continuous vetting” for federal employees in non-sensitive positions.
Continuous vetting allows for constant monitoring of employees’ files for eligibility changes instead of relying on lengthy periodic reinvestigations. The policy is already in place for the national security workforce.
Now, the goal is for the low-risk population to be fully enrolled this fiscal year, according to OPM.
About 4.2 million government and contract personnel hold a security clearance, of which most are DoD-clearance holders, according to data by Clearance Jobs.
No timeline has been announced for when Gaetz’ bill may be considered by a congressional committee or on the chamber floor.
Reporter Molly Weisner contributed to this report.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.