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FOIA News: Progress on FOIA reform bill

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Sessions set to remove opposition to FOIA reform bill

By Mario Trujillo, The Hill, Mar. 10, 2016

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) signaled Thursday that he would remove his opposition to a bill to reform the government's open records laws after some of his changes were accepted. 

That could mean the bill to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act is free to move forward on the Senate floor. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the lead sponsor, previously told National Journal he was hoping to advance the bill in the next week. 

"So are we now OK with it?" Sessions asked one of his staffers during a brief interview with The Hill, after a staffer told him that some of his changes had been accepted. 

After the staffer signaled that the changes would allow him to support the bill, Sessions said with a smile, "OK."

Sessions, who had not been fully briefed on the deal, did not describe what changes he had been looking for. Cornyn's office did not respond to a request for comment. 

The Judiciary Committee approved the bill early last year, but it has not received a vote on the floor. A similar bill passed the House in January. 

Last March, Cornyn had attempted to move the bill on the floor through unanimous consent. But Sessions had put a hold on it, according to emails between his staffers and the Justice Department that were released Wednesday. The emails revealed the Justice Department strongly opposed similar legislation last Congress. 

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) also had a brief hold on the bill. But he dropped it days ago, according to an aide. One congressional source said those were the only two holds on the bill.