The FOIA Reform Bill passed unanimously by Senate Judiciary Committee in November was struck down in the House last week by Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) The bill had passed smoothly in the House earlier this year with a unanimous vote of 410-0. It then moved to the Sen. Judiciary Committee where it passed yet again with unanimous support. The bill has been championed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) but was met with opposition from Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D., W. Va.) A storm of Twitter posts, emails, and phone calls from watchdogs and a bipartisan group of Senators headed by Leahy worked to calm any objections. In early December, the bill passed through the Senate. After finally pushing through to the House, Speaker Boehner immediately tabled the bill.
Highlights of the proposed bill included a more lax fee policy on documents older than 25 years and requirements for federal agencies to act with a “presumption of openness”. The bill would also limit overuse of exemptions to withhold information from requestors. “The Freedom of Information Act is one of our Nation’s most important laws. It is about giving Americans greater access to their government and to hold government accountable,” said Senator Leahy. Leahy blames Boehner or killing the FOIA reform bill last week.