12.10.14

With Adjournment Now Only Hours Away, Leahy Calls On House To Pass FOIA Improvement Act

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, December 10, 2014) -- Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called on the House to pass the bipartisan FOIA Improvement Act that the Senate unanimously approved earlier this week before adjourning for the year.

“This legislation is all about government transparency. If House Republicans want this administration to be more accountable, then they must put it on the suspension calendar without delay. Let’s get it done,” Leahy said. “With the sun about to set on this congressional session, the House should not leave this sunshine bill undone, on the table.  Time is quickly running out, and the House must act without further delay.”

The bill strengthens the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the nation’s premier open government law, by requiring Federal agencies to operate under a “presumption of openness” when considering the release of government information. 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, and Leahy worked with relevant Committees in the Senate to ensure the bill would allow government attorneys to do their jobs while still upholding transparency.

Leahy worked with Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), his longtime partner on transparency issues, to usher their bipartisan bill through the Senate. 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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