EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Ron Johnson and 20 Republican senators on Tuesday urged President Biden restore a Trump-era executive order modeled after bipartisan legislation requiring federal agencies to post guidance documents in a searchable database, warning that since the measure was revoked, a number of federal agencies have taken “highly concerning” steps to “eliminate public access.”
“The Public Access to Guidance EO implemented bipartisan, common sense transparency measures requiring agencies to create a ‘single, searchable, indexed database’ of all guidance documents on the agency website,” Johnson, R-Wis., and his GOP colleagues wrote.
JOHNSON ACCUSES MAYORKAS OF BEING IN ‘STATE OF DENIAL’ OVER BORDER CRISIS
The Republican senators said Biden, upon revoking the order, said it “was necessary to provide Federal agencies the ‘flexibility to use robust regulatory action to address national priorities.”
“Your administration provided no context to explain how a website providing public access to government documents could be harmful,” they wrote.
“Since February, a number of federal agencies have taken steps to eliminate public access to guidance documents in order to comply with your directive,” they wrote. “We believe these actions run counter to the principles of an open, transparent government and the rule of law.”
The senators said that “at least ten Federal agencies have now deleted the websites for the public to access agency guidance documents.”
“These actions are highly concerning,” they wrote. “In the past, efforts to promote a more open and transparent government have been bipartisan, and we see no reason why they should not be today.”
A spokesperson from the White House Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday told Fox News that agencies have not been told to take down any such databases or public information.
“This Administration is committed to transparency, and agencies have not been told to take down databases or other public information,” the spokesperson told Fox News. “In fact, this earlier order was revoked because it imposed unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that made it harder for agencies to get information out to the public fast.”
The executive order was fashioned in the Trump administration after bipartisan legislation, the Guidance Out of Darkness Act, also known as the GOOD Act, which was approved by voice vote by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs during the last two sessions of Congress.
Vice President Kamala Harris, in 2018, during her time in the Senate, voted to support the bipartisan legislation, and the House of Representatives also passed a companion bill by voice vote.
“The revocation of an executive order with such widespread and long-standing bipartisan support—including the support of Vice President Harris—seems inconsistent with your stated desire for compromise and to ‘reach across the aisle, and work together,’” the senators wrote in February, when they first expressed concern on the move to revoke the executive order.
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Joining Johnson in sending the letter were Republican Sens. James Lankford, Rob Portman, Richard Burr, Joni Ernst, John Cornyn, Thom Tillis, Kevin Cramer, Ted Cruz, Marsha Blackburn, John Barrasso, Pat Toomey, Bill Hagerty, Mike Lee, Cynthia Lummis, Mitt Romney, Mike Braun, Roger Marshall, Deb Fischer, Rand Paul, and Lindsey Graham.
The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.