Leahy Kicks Off Sunshine Week In Keynote Speech At National Archives

Leahy Calls On Senate To Pass FOIA Improvement Act This Week; Also Urges Senate Republicans To “Choose Sunshine Over Secrecy,” Schedule Public Hearings On SCOTUS Nominee

WASHINGTON (Monday, March 14, 2016) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a longtime champion of the Freedom of Information Act, said Monday that the Senate must pass the FOIA Improvement Act as soon as this week.

Kicking off Sunshine Week with a keynote address at the National Archives, Leahy called for the Senate to pass the bipartisan legislation which he successfully steered through the Senate last Congress.  The bipartisan bill, coauthored by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), requires Federal agencies to operate under a “presumption of openness” when considering the release of government information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  

“The Senate passed my FOIA Improvement Act in 2014 unanimously, and I was deeply disappointed that the House failed to act.  The time is now to do what is right,” Leahy said.  “Previous efforts to improve FOIA have always been bipartisan, and that should continue.  It is my hope that Democrats and Republicans can come together and pass this commonsense legislation this week.” 

Leahy also underscored the critical importance of holding confirmation hearings and a vote on the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court, noting that public consideration of the nominee is critical to government transparency.

“We must make sure that our government conducts its work in public and uses technology to invite more people into public proceedings.  This access and transparency was a priority for me when I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee during the consideration of the last two Supreme Court nominees,” Leahy said.

He added:  “We have spent decades bringing more and more daylight to the Supreme Court confirmation process.  Now, some partisans want to impose an artificial sunset.  I hope that once the President upholds his constitutional duty by making a nomination, then Senate Republicans will choose sunshine over secrecy in the Supreme Court confirmation process.”

Senator Leahy’s prepared remarks are online and below.  A webcast of the Sunshine Week discussion is available on the National Archives’ YouTube channel.

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