Last night the Senate passed a bill reforming the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA Improvement Act of 2014 was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee last month.
The legislation requires federal agencies to operate under a “presumption of openness” when considering the release of government information under the FOIA. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) wrote and endorsed the bill.
“Maintaining an open government is fundamental to our democracy,” Leahy and Cornyn said in a joint statement. "The FOIA Improvement Act will help open the government to all Americans by placing an emphasis on openness and transparency, rather than allowing agencies simply to hide behind exemptions."
According to the Huffington Post, exemptions to withhold information would be reduced and agencies under the act would have to make records available for public inspection in an electronic format.
Previously opposed to the bill, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) changed their mind over the weekend. Neither has given a concrete reason as to why.
In an interview with Politico, Rockefeller explained, “It's sort of the internal workings of the Senate.”
Now, the cosponsors call on the House to vote on the Senate's bill that makes it easier for people to file FOIA requests.