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FOIA News: FOIA bill may clear Senate this week

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

FOIA reform nears Senate finish line

By Mario Trujillo, The Hill, 03/14/16

Legislation to give the public more access to government records could pass the Senate as soon as this week, according to supporters.

After a year of delay, a few holdout senators recently removed their opposition to a bill to update the Freedom of Information Act. Senate backers hope to approve it with unanimous consent during “sunshine week,” which started Monday and is dedicated to highlighting the need for government transparency.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), the bill’s lead sponsor, has been trying to get it approved since last March. At the time, he “hotlined” the bill, hoping to pass it by unanimous consent unless there was any objection.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a former U.S. attorney, put a long-term hold on the bill. But Sessions signaled Thursday he would remove his opposition after some of his changes were accepted by Cornyn’s office.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) also removed a hold days ago.

“It is very bipartisan,” said Judiciary ChairmanChuck Grassley (R-Iowa), another bill sponsor.

Grassley's office said sponsors are hoping to move the bill this week. Cornyn told National Journal the same last week.

The bill is one of the few pieces of legislation that could make it to President Obama’s desk in a tight election-year schedule.

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