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Important FOIA reform bill passes Senate Judiciary Committee, but is being held up by one senator

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  1. Freedom of Information
Update: as of the end of the day on Dec. 4, Senator Coburn has reportedly lifted his hold on the…

Update: as of the end of the day on Dec. 4, Senator Coburn has reportedly lifted his hold on the bill, although it is now being reported that Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) is holding it up.

The Senate is poised to take action on the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014, which would make great improvements to the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but the bill is inexplicably being held up by a single senator.

The Act unanimously passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 20. It makes important changes to FOIA, including codifying a presumption of openness, ensuring that requesters are not charged fees when agencies fail to meet their legal obligations, and strengthening the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS). Perhaps most importantly, it includes a 25 year sunset provision on certain aspects of Exemption 5, which has been over- and misused in the past to withhold documents to which the public has a right of access.

Despite the bill’s broad bipartisan support, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is reportedly holding it up in the Senate. The Reporters Committee supports the passage of the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014, and calls on all lawmakers to do the same. FOIA is an essential component of our democracy, and strengthening it is in the interest of all.