Senate Passes Cornyn, Leahy FOIA Improvement Act

U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) hailed the Senate’s passage Monday of 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 all Americans by placing an emphasis on openness and transparency, rather than allowing agencies simply to hide behind exemptions.

With the Senate’s action today, it is critical the House take up and pass the FOIA Improvement Act this week so it can be enacted this year.

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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