FOIA Improvement Bill Scheduled for House Vote Today
House vote today could send FOIA reforms to president’s desk before FOIA’s 50th anniversary on July 4
The U.S. House is scheduled to vote today on S. 337 (pdf), the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016. If approved, bipartisan reforms to the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) would go to the President’s desk for signature just days before transparency advocates celebrate the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the original FOIA into law on July 4, 1966.
The FOIA reforms the House will vote on are a high-water mark for FOIA. The legislation, which passed the Senate during Sunshine Week on March 15, 2016, writes clearly into law the presumption of openness in the government’s response to FOIA requests, gives the FOIA Ombudsman an independent voice in making recommendations to Congress and the President on federal agency FOIA performance, and ends the ability of agencies to withhold information revealing policy deliberations after 25 years.
The Sunshine in Government Initiative, a coalition of nine media groups, has pushed for a vote by FOIA’s 50th anniversary. Members of the Sunshine in Government Initiative include: American Society of News Editors, The Associated Press, Association of Alternative Newsmedia, National Newspaper Association, Newspaper Association of America, Online News Association, Radio Television Digital News Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Society of Professional Journalists.
For more information on the Fix FOIA by 50 Campaign and FOIA reform legislation:
On Twitter: #FixFOIAby50
Online: SGI’s “Fix FOIA by 50” campaign
This post has been revised to summarize how S. 337 amends FOIA.