After passing the Senate by unanimous consent on Monday, it seemed as if the FOIA Improvement Act would become law—a nearly identical version passed the House earlier this year. Today, however, it was up to Speaker of the House John Boehner to allow a vote on the bill’s final passage before the House adjourned this week. Instead, it was “held at the desk,” meaning Boehner may have just killed FOIA reform.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law, signed in 1966, that gives U.S. citizens the right to access information from the federal government. Through FOIA, journalists and citizens alike have uncovered stories like the U.S. government turning down hundreds of millions of dollars in Katrina aid, the Pentagon ignoring a tip alleging 135 cases of fraud amounting to nearly $200 million, shortages in funding hampering cleanup at hazardous waste sites and 17,000 bridges failing to be inspected on schedule, to name a few.
“It is an uniquely American act, but it is a tool that needs to be continually sharpened,” says Nate Jones, the Freedom of Information Act Coordinator at the George Washington University’s National Security Archive. “The government is pretty good at giving information to people it wants to give, but the Freedom of Information Act is really a gem that allows the public to have a fighting chance to get the information from the government that they want.”
(Excerpt) Read more at newsweek.com …