12.08.14

Leahy & Cornyn Urge Senate To Pass FOIA Improvement Act TODAY

WASHINGTON (Monday, December 8, 2014) -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) urged Senators Monday to pass historic legislation that strengthens the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the nation’s premier open government law.

The FOIA Improvement Act of 2014, which was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee last month, requires Federal agencies to operate under a “presumption of openness” when considering the release of government information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  This is the same language the President laid out in his historic memorandum in 2009, and which is already being followed by government agencies.  The Leahy-Cornyn bill would make this presumption a permanent fixture in FOIA.  The legislation would not require the disclosure of information that is prohibited from being released, such as classified information.

“Maintaining an open government is fundamental to our democracy. The FOIA Improvement Act will help open the government to the 300 million Americans it serves by placing a statutory priority on openness and transparency, rather than allowing agencies simply to hide behind exemptions,” Senator Leahy said. “As a former prosecutor, I also understand the need for attorneys to do their work. Our legislation increases transparency while allowing government attorneys to do their job. The Senate must pass our legislation today so it can be sent over to the House and enacted this year.”

“An open and transparent government is the linchpin of American democracy, and the Senate should pass our bill without delay to improve this important law and promote greater accountability for the American people from their government,” Senator Cornyn said.

The FOIA Improvement Act is supported by more than 70 groups that advocate for government transparency, as well as the Sunshine in Government Initiative.  An outline of the FOIA Improvement Act can be found here, and text of legislation can be found online.

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