Leahy, Cornyn Introduce FOIA Exemption-Flagging Bill

March 25, 2009

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), introduced a bill March 17, 2009, to bring a bit more openness to Congress itself and complete unfinished business from the 2007 FOIA reform bill.

It would require Congress to explicitly declare when it was creating a new exemption to the Freedom of Information Act in any legislation. In the past, Congress has sometimes done this indirectly, allowing exemptions to slip by FOIA watchdogs. The bill would require specific citation of FOIA when exemptions are created.

The bill (S 612) was co-sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), an open-government champion who has partnered with Leahy on a series of bipartisan FOIA bills.

A similar provision was contained in the major FOIA reform bill Congress considered in 2007, but was dropped before the bill was finally enacted in December of that year.

No significant action has yet been taken on S 612.