The White House said Tuesday Congress should subject itself to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in response to lawmakers’ scrutiny of the administration’s handling of the law.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration is “justifiably proud” of its efforts to fulfill FOIA requests for documents, responding to 647,000 requests in the last fiscal year.
“Those who are interested in advocating for transparency in government should advocate for Congress being subject to those kinds of transparency measures,” Earnest told reporters.
The White House’s claim came in response to a House Oversight Committee hearing examining what lawmakers call a broken system for records requests, plagued by long waits and heavy-handed redactions.
The issue has garnered increased scrutiny, as journalists seek access to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump to attend World Series Game 4 in Atlanta Pavlich: Democrats' weaponization of the DOJ is back Mellman: The trout in the milk MORE’s emails from her tenure as secretary of State.
In response, Earnest was asked if the White House would subject itself to FOIA. As with Congress, FOIA does not apply to almost all White House operations.
Earnest said the White House is covered by the Presidential Records Act, although he acknowledged the response times for records requests are much longer than what FOIA requires.
But he said the transparency standards for Congress remain lower.
“Certainly, [there is] a much greater demonstration of a commitment to transparency than what Congress submits itself to,” Earnest said. “I think what we want is some kind of transparency in Congress.”