FOIA reform is dead (in this Congress), long live FOIA reform!
Despite the best efforts of a broad coalition of activists, experts, members of Congress and more — as well as a last minute Hail Mary option — the chance for reforms to the Freedom of Information Act in the 113th Congress is officially gone.
And yet, there is more reason to celebrate today than to despair.
The FOIA Improvement Act — and its close cousin the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act of 2014 — represented a bipartisan, bicameral acknowledgement that FOIA is one of the most valuable tools that we the people have to hold our government accountable.
Sunlight has been strongly supportive of the FOIA Improvement Act because it addresses real world problems faced by requesters every day, specifically targeting overly broad exemptions and limiting unnecessary fees. Just like Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., one of its strongest champions, we are disappointed that it did not become law.
And yet, we are hopeful for the future.
Most laws never make it out of committee even after repeated attempts spread over multiple years. The FOIA Improvement Act came tantalizingly close to becoming law its first time around.
Rest assured that the FOIA Improvement Act will be reintroduced in the 114th Congress and that the Sunlight Foundation and its allies will be fighting harder than ever for its passage. We want to say a hearty thank you to Leahy, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and everyone else that worked so hard during the 113th Congress to make these needed reforms possible. We’ll see you next year!