Congress expanding FOIA to allow access to more government records

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Congress is moving to reverse one area of the Bush administration’s trend toward secrecy since the 2001 terrorist attacks by expanding the Freedom of Information Act. It’s also increasing penalties for noncompliance and making records held by government contractors subject to the law.

The bill restores a presumption of disclosure standard committing government agencies to releasing requested information unless there is a finding that such disclosure could do harm.

Agencies would be required to meet a 20-day deadline for responding to FOIA requests.

The White House isn’t saying whether President Bush will sign the bill.

But Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has been working with the Justice Department on the legislation, has said he expects the president to sign it.

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