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 Leahy (D-Vt.) and John Cornyn (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.

“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 Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (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.

Tags Darrell Issa Elijah Cummings FOIA FOIA Improvement Act Freedom of Information Act John Cornyn Patrick Leahy

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