Reps Roy, Norman Launch Effort to Bring Transparency on COVID FOIA Requests
Rep. Ralph Norman (SC-05) and I, joined by several of our House colleagues, introduced the Answer COVID FOIAs Now Act recently to require current outstanding COVID-related FOIA requests to be completed within 100 days. The introduction follows reports that the Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency (PHMPT) is suing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for failure to produce requested documents via FOIA and asking to have until 2097 to do so.
“The American people have been misled, and information related to COVID vaccines has been hidden from the public eye or delayed in perpetuity by our public health ‘experts,’ throughout this pandemic,” I said. “The FDA’s request to have until 2097 to fully release documents related to the approval of the Pfizer vaccine is absurd. The American people deserve transparent and honest information; that is why I am proud to introduce this bill to bring necessary accountability and transparency for COVID-related FOIA requests. This is a first step among many needed reforms that will address the rank incompetence and dishonesty federal agencies have displayed throughout this pandemic.”
“We must ensure the public can trust the very government institutions they pay for to serve them with integrity,” Rep. Norman said. “Fearmongering, virtue signaling, and, at best, inconsistent messaging have eroded the faith in the independence of these agencies and public health officials at large. It is imperative that federal agencies follow through on any FOIA requests in a timely manner on any COVID-related issue. I am proud to work with Rep. Roy on this legislation to restore the public's faith in our government.”
“White Coat Waste Project applauds Congressman Roy’s commitment to government transparency, and is proud to support his new legislation. Freedom of Information Act requests have helped WCW and others uncover critical details about the origins of Covid-19, including how dangerous coronavirus gain-of-function experiments on animals were funded with taxpayer dollars in China. Americans have a right to know how their taxes are being spent, and deserve answers about the pandemic. Rep. Roy’s bill will benefit public health and public knowledge for generations to come,” said White Coat Waste Project Public Policy and Communications Manager Devin Murphy.
This bill would ensure expedited processing of COVID-related FOIA requests.
COVID-related FOIAs are those that relate to:
- A drug or medical device to treat, prevent, or mitigate COVID-19;
- Gain-of-function or potential pandemic pathogen (P3) research;
- A policy, rule, or standard requiring vaccination of individuals.
If agency heads fail to complete the requests within 100 days, a penalty of $1 million would be taken from the office of the head of the federal agency and transferred to the Countermeasures Injury Compensation Program.
For future COVID-related requests, the bill would establish a “compelling need” to ensure that they are expedited.
Finally, the bill includes a clause to ensure that current statutory FOIA exemptions remain in place, such as proprietary or criminal investigation information.
Cosponsors to this bill include Reps. Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Daniel Webster (FL-11), Bill Posey (FL-08), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), Van Taylor (TX-03), Louie Gohmert (TX-01).
Full text of the legislation is available at the link here.