So, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the former chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the top Democrat on the committee, introduced legislation Tuesday to force agencies to fork over more info and to do so in a timely manner. The bill would, among other thing, try to reduce agencies’ abilities to withhold information based on myriad exemptions.
“The bill places the burden on the agency to demonstrate why the information may be withheld,” the lawmakers said in their statement, “instead of on the public to justify release.”
The duo introduced a similar bill in March 2013, and it overwhelmingly passed the House. It stalled for a while in the Senate over concerns by financial regulatory agencies that the measure might lead to the release of sensitive financial information. That got worked out, and the Senate unanimously passed the measure in December. But time ran out before the House could vote on final passage.
Open-government advocates are optimistic. ” I think it’s going to be easy,” Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, told us. “There’s no sensible argument against it,” noting that it’s supported by leadership in both parties.
Besides, it’s easy for Congress to impose rules on the bureaucracy. Because, of course, Congress is not subject to FOIA …