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Editorial: Extra! Congress Passes a Bill

We wish this did not merit a headline, but given that Congress is often dysfunctional, and taking into account the difficulty in getting legislation passed in an election year, the House vote last week on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reform, which followed unanimous Senate passage earlier this year, it’s deserving.

The bill should make it easier for journalists and others to get information from the government. The legislation streamlines the FOIA request process by having one online form for requests from any agency.

The FOIA Improvement Act essentially establishes a rebuttable presumption that documents should be produced rather than withheld. The new legislation also requires the government to proactively release documents it knows to be of public interest.

Last week, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Democratic ranking member of the Judiciary Committee and a cosponsor of the bill, said that it “ushers in the most significant reforms to FOIA since its enactment 50 years ago.”

That suggests they were overdue, a point Leahy also made. But better late than never.