Thursday, March 15, 2007

House Passes Open-Government Bills

In a bipartisan confrontation with the White House over executive branch secrecy, the House ignored a stern veto threat and overwhelmingly passed a package of open-government bills yesterday that would roll back administration efforts to shield its workings from public view.

Even top Republicans supported three bills that would streamline access to records in presidential libraries, expand safeguards for government whistle-blowers, and strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which guides public requests for government documents. All were approved with veto-proof majorities.

The White House issued tough statements on all three bills, saying, for example, that the presidential records act was "misguided, and would improperly impinge on the President's constitutional authority, in violation of settled separation of powers principles."

The three bills are: the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007; the Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 2007; and the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007.

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