S. 2170: Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012

S. 2170

Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012

December 19, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, December 19, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider S. 2170, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage.  S. 2170 was introduced by Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) on March 7, 2012, and was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which took no action on the bill.  The Senate approved S. 3564 on November 30, 2012, with an amendment, by unanimous consent. 

Bill Summary

S. 2170 would update the Hatch Act by doing the following:

  1. Removing the prohibition on certain state and local employees running for partisan elective office unless their salary is paid entirely from federal funding;
  2. Providing more flexibility with respect to penalties that may be imposed on federal employees for Hatch Act violations;
  3. Applying to D.C. government employees the same Hatch Act provisions that apply to state and local government employees; and
  4. Giving federal employees who are residents of the District of Columbia the same right to participate in municipal political management and political campaigns that federal employees residing in nearby areas of Maryland and Virginia now have.


The Hatch Act prohibits certain federal, state, and local government employees from running for partisan political office and from engaging in certain other partisan political activities. According to Senate Report 112-211, federal employees have faced restrictions on their political activities since the earliest days of the Republic.  In 1939, increased concerns about partisan political activity of certain federal employees led Congress to pass what has become known as the “Hatch Act.”  Congress most recently reformed the Hatch Act in 1993, allowing most federal employees to engage in voluntary, partisan political activities as long as those activities take place during their own free time, away from their federal jobs, and off of federal premises. 


According to CBO, enacting S. 2170 could increase revenues from civil fines that could be imposed on federal employees who violate the Hatch Act, pay-as-you-go procedures apply.  However, CBO expects that any additional revenues collected would not be significant in any year.  Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending.