Senate passes bill to remove FOIA exemption for the SEC

The Senate approved a bill Tuesday that removes a provision from the financial regulatory reform law that provided the Securities and Exchange Commission with broader exemptions for releasing documents to the public. 

The bill repeals the provision and clarifies that the existing FOIA provision will protect against the release of confidential information contained in the records of any entity that falls under the SEC’s regulatory authority.

The House is expected to act soon on the legislation. 

The SEC has argued that it needs the broader Freedom of Information Act exemptions to ensure financial firms that vital company information is protected and isn't released to the public. 

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Four senators cosponsored the legislation -- Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Labor Day: No justice for whistleblowers MORE (D-Vt.), Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), John CornynJohn CornynDemocrats make case to Senate parliamentarian for 8 million green cards Democrats to make pitch Friday for pathway to citizenship in spending bill Without major changes, more Americans could be victims of online crime MORE (R-Texas) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyWoman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing Senators denounce protest staged outside home of Justice Kavanaugh MORE (R-Iowa).

Leahy said FOIA "has long recognized the need to balance the Government’s legitimate interest in protecting confidential business records, trade secrets and other sensitive information from public disclosure, and preserving the public’s right to know."  

When the FOIA provision was added for the SEC "we sought to ensure that the SEC had access to the information that the Commission needed to protect American investors – not to shield information from the public," Leahy said.