Senate Committee Advances FOIA Reform

By Elizabeth Holland

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the FOIA Improvement Act (S. 2520), bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

AALL applauds the Committee’s swift passage of S. 2520, which would require federal agencies to adopt a “presumption of openness” when considering the release of government information under FOIA. The bill also aims to reduce the overuse of exemptions to withhold information from the public and would provide the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) with additional independence and authority to carry out its work mediating FOIA disputes. In a letter sent Wednesday, AALL joined more than 70 organizations urging the Judiciary Committee to support the measure.

In February, the House passed a similar bill, the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act (H.R. 1211). However, the Senate will need to act quickly on S. 2520 and conference both bills before FOIA reform can be written into law. AALL encourages the Senate to consider and pass the FOIA Improvement Act without delay.

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