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Wenstrup Introduces Bipartisan House Companion to Sensible Classification Act

Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) introduced the bipartisan Sensible Classification Act, the companion legislation to S.1518, sponsored by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Mark Warner (D-VA). This bill streamlines and modernizes the security classification system which is in urgent need of reform. It would increase accountability and oversight and limit overclassification.

"Our classified information systems are critical to the nation's security and secrets, and technology has helped increase our capabilities over recent years," said Rep. Wenstrup. "At the same time, the government too often overclassifies information, which has led the American people to distrust their government. As a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I want the declassification process to be efficient, so citizens have the transparency they deserve, while also keeping our secrets out of enemy hands. This bill strikes that balance and will enhance accountability and oversight."

“As a former CIA case officer who routinely handled classified information, I know that America’s current classification system needs reform,” said Rep. Spanberger. “That’s why I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan, bicameral effort to increase accountability, protect classified information from bad actors, and prevent overclassification. As a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I believe that both our national security and the American people’s trust in our intelligence community can be strengthened if we make commonsense fixes to our outdated classification system.”

Background: The Sensible Classification Act of 2023 has companion legislation introduced in the Senate in May, led by U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Mike Rounds (R-SD), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM.)

The bill would take these steps:

  • Codify classification authority as the President, Vice President, head of an agency, or the individual to whom such authority has been delegated in line with current practice pursuant to Executive Order 13526 and specify how the authority is delegated and the training required to receive it
  • Promote efficient declassification for records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or Mandatory Declassification Review
  • Require training to promote sensible classification
  • Improve the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) by allowing for additional staff to be hired and permitting members to serve until a successor is appointed
  • Direct the Federal government to develop an integrated technology solution on classification and declassification
  • Direct Federal agencies to conduct a study on the necessity of number and types of security clearances with sufficient justification