WASHINGTON — Legislation to speed the government's response to open records requests is a step closer to becoming law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to send the Faster FOIA Act of 2010 to the full Senate. The measure would create a commission to investigate government delays in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests and recommend ways to get information out faster.
The legislation's lead sponsors, Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, say FOIA delays are a long-standing problem. They have been seeking a FOIA commission for years.
"It would be a great benefit to the American people, who deserve to be treated as valued customers when they seek answers from their government," said Cornyn, a Judiciary Committee member.
The panel would also examine why government use of FOIA loopholes to withhold information rose in the last fiscal year. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, sought that inquiry in response to an Associated Press analysis that found agencies were more often citing FOIA exemptions to withhold records, even as requests decreased and President Barack Obama ordered more transparency.
Attorney General Eric Holder told Grassley at a Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday that he also finds the numbers troubling and will look into the issue.
There was no immediate word on when the Senate might vote on the FOIA legislation.
On the Net:
Read the legislation, S.3111, at http://thomas.loc.gov/