Jan 14, 2024 - Politics & Policy

House GOP targets federal workers who walk out over Gaza

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators during the March on Washington for Gaza rally in front of the White House on Jan. 13, 2024. Photo: Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Top House Republicans plan to press federal agencies to punish workers who participate in a planned walk out next week in protest of the Biden administration's support for Israel.

Why it matters: It's the first time Congress has gotten involved in the widespread staff-level dissent taking place within the federal government over the Israel-Hamas war.

Driving the news: Federal workers across nearly two dozen agencies including the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department plan to walk off the job on Tuesday, according to the Middle East-focused news site Al-Monitor.

  • The protest, led by a group of dozens of federal employees calling itself Feds United For Peace, is reportedly to observe a "Day of Mourning" on the 100th day since Israel began military operations in Gaza last October.
  • Hundreds of Biden administration employees are expected to participate in the demonstration, the outlet reported.

What they're saying: "Any government worker who walks off the job to protest U.S. support for our ally Israel is ignoring their responsibility and abusing the trust of taxpayers," House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said in a statement.

  • Johnson said he and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) will "be working together to ensure that each federal agency initiates appropriate disciplinary proceedings" against anyone who participates in Tuesday's demonstration.
  • "They deserve to be fired," Johnson said.

Between the lines: The conservative magazine National Review made the case that the protest violates federal law, pointing to a statute punishing any federal employee who "participates in a strike ... against the Government of the United States" with a fine or up to a year in prison.

  • The outlet noted that a strike, as defined by Cornell Law School, is "an organized and intentional stoppage or slowdown of work by employees, intending to make the employer comply with the demands of the employees."
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