FOIA Bill Could Get House Vote Soon

A bipartisan Freedom of Information Act reform bill, HR-653, that has passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee could come to a House floor vote soon, with Senate action potentially following.

The desire to boost agency compliance with the information release law is one area of federal workplace policies in which the two parties and two chambers are in general agreement, with both the House and Senate having passed a similar bill last year. However, the measure never reached enactment because of several minor differences that could not be worked out in time before Congress adjourned for the year.

The bill would among other things establish a presumption that agencies must disclose documents unless they can show that a specific harm would result from disclosure. It also would impose a “sunset” after 25 years of an exception under which information was withheld, limit the exception for pre-decisional deliberative records, give requesters new rights to challenge through a grievance-type procedure an agency’s decision to withhold information, and make agencies liable for paying the costs of successful court challenges to withholdings. Continue>>>