Recently, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the proposal to amend the False Claims Act. The exigencies of other commitments left Senator Grassley to chair a large portion of the hearing and to ask the bulk of the questions.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a representative to make outrageous claims about the lack of need for amendments as well as the impact the amendments would have on businesses.
The Department of Justice sent Michael Hertz to represent the position that while DOJ supported the proposed changes for conspiracy, overpayments, waiver, clarifying the statute of limitations, relation back, and changes in the CID authority, it was opposed to allowing government employees to be whistleblowers.
An actual relator, Tina Gonter, testified before the committee. Her testimony seemed to undermine most of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s positions with actual experience in a lawsuit. Judge John Clark also testified in support of the amendments and countered most of the proposed opposition arguments.
There is no crystal ball concerning what will happen from these hearings. However, it appeared from the comments of the Senators that they were unified on both sides of the isle to resolve problems that courts have created for what they saw as the intent of the 1986 amendments and the best use of the False Claims Act to recover taxpayer monies.