Senate panel approves bill to boost disclosure of government docs

A bill meant to expand public disclosure of government documents made its first step toward passage in the new Congress. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday unanimously passed the bill aimed at updating the Freedom of Information Act, one of the panel's first legislative acts this year. 

Earlier this week, Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised On The Money — Democrats tee up Senate spending battles with GOP MORE (D-Vt.) and John CornynJohn CornynBipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill Cornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? MORE (R-Texas) reintroduced the FOIA Improvement Act, which would require agencies to adopt a policy that presumes disclosure and would ban denials of records based on technicalities, among other changes.

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"The FOIA Improvement Act of 2015 reflects the input of both sides of the aisle, the open government community, the Administration, and many other stakeholders," Leahy said after the vote. "It is the product of careful negotiations, and it marks an historic step forward in our continued effort to open the government. The Senate should take up and pass this bill so it can be considered by the House and enacted this year.” 

The Senate approved the bill late last year, but the House did not take it up in the lame-duck session. Earlier last Congress, however, the House passed a slightly different FOIA update, sponsored by Reps. Darrell IssaDarrell Edward IssaBipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill How lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation Dozens of Sacramento students remain in Afghanistan after US pullout, district says MORE (R-Calif.) and Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (D-Md.). 

The two House lawmakers have also reintroduced their version, and Issa told The Hill he expects it to be approved on the floor in the next few weeks.