Supporters of open government are on the 1-yard line in an effort to pass reforms to the Freedom of Information Act. But the clock is about to run out.
For the past several months, the FOIA Improvement Act has been in the works, and it cleared the Senate Monday after Sen. Jay Rockefeller dropped his objections. But now the House has to sign off. Last year the lower chamber passed even broader legislation – by unanimous vote. But House leadership has not put this year’s bill on the calendar, and the House could adjourn as early as Thursday. That would mean work would have to start all over again next year.
Key provisions in the bill would spell out the “presumption of openness” inherent in the law and would codify the “foreseeable harm” standard, which says information should be given out unless foreseeable harm would result. The bill also would make it easier to get documents of historical interest and would strengthen the FOIA ombudsman role.
Supporters of the reform should contact the House leadership, by phone if possible, or via Twitter by direct Tweets: @SpeakerBoehner, @GOPLeader, @NancyPelosi, @WhipHoyer.