Imperative for House to Add Widely-Supported FOIA Reform Bill to Calendar, Pass By Thursday, December 11
If the House does not pass the FOIA Improvement Act (S2520) by the end of the day tomorrow, December 11, the widely-supported and non-controversial reform legislation will die. Despite the importance of this FOIA reform legislation, which the Senate already unanimously passed and has the bipartisan support of both Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who unanimously passed their own companion Issa-Cummings reform legislation earlier this year in a 410-0 vote, the FOIA bill has yet to be added to the House’s legislative calendar.
The time is now to remind Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) why the FOIA Improvement Act needs a spot on this year’s legislative calendar.
Let the leaders of the House know the following:
- This is a bipartisan bill, strongly supported both by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and the House companion to the bill, HR 1211, passed unanimously (410-0) this February.
- By passing S2520, the House will help make sure federal agencies are accountable to the public.
- S2520 strengths citizens’ best FOIA advocate and moderator, the Office of Government Information Services, which effectively serves as the FOIA Ombudsman. The bill will ensure that agencies inform FOIA requesters that they have the right to request FOIA dispute resolution service in lieu of expensive litigation.
- S2520 nearly died in the Senate because intense lobbying by the Federal Trade Commission (whose “What’s New with FOIA?” page most recently cites a 2005 executive order signed by President George W. Bush!) and other independent agencies convinced Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) to place an 11thhour hold. Rockefeller released his hold after intense pressure from the open government community and his 99 fellow senators.
- Moving a similar bill out of the Senate will be more difficult next year when Senator Leahy’s positioning to fight off holds such as Sen. Rockefellers’ is not as strong.
- If the House passes this bill, it will mean that this legislative session – which already saw the passage of the DATA Act and the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014 – will be one of the most pro-transparent in history.
Speaker Boehner can best be reached the following ways:
Phone: (202) 225-0600
And Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy can be contacted here:
Phone: (202) 225-2915