Today, Public Citizen sent a letter to Senator Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.), asking him to allow an important bill to increase access to government information to come to a vote in the Senate.
We’re not the only ones asking for a break. Last week, Sen. Dick Durbin (D.-Ill.), the Democratic whip, sought unanimous consent to bring up the OPEN Government Act again, which would critically improve the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The GOP again blocked consideration of the bill for the now-unmasked “Senator Anonymous ” – Senator Kyl (R.-Ariz.). At yesterday’s opening of the Senate session, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.), asked for an end to objections over bringing the uncontroversial, bipartisan bill to the floor. Kyl did not back down.
It’s time for Senator Kyl to stop obstructing a vote for FOIA and allow the OPEN Government Act to go to the floor. The bill would strengthen the law that provides access to government documents for the press and citizens. Senator Kyl is quibbling over a few parts of the bill, and Senators Leahy (D.-Vt.) and Cornyn (R.-Tx.) have tried to accommodate his concerns.
But there is a limit to how much compromise is deserved here.
The current bill encourages the timely settlement of cases where the government lacks a reasonable basis to withhold information. The incentive it provides would strengthen FOIA, decrease the cost of litigation and benefit taxpayers. People of modest means should not be penalized when it comes to using FOIA. In fact, the majority of FOIA requesters are individuals and businesses – taxpayers that deserve real and timely information about the actions of their government.
Senator Kyl should step aside now, and allow the Senate to vote on the OPEN Government Act.