According to Blum, the b(3) losing bids exemption was originally only intended to apply to defense contract bids, but has since been used to deny a wide range of requests. The exemption hampers the public from evaluating the relative merit of selected contracts. “It metastasized,” says Blum. “Maybe we should take another look at that one.”

In fact, Blum would like to see a broad reexamination of all b(3) exemptions currently on the books, either by Congress or by an investigative body like the Government Accountability Office or the Congressional Research Service.

But for now Blum is happy to see the senators try again: “It’s wonderful to focus attention on this, and the legislation does that.”

Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.