Senator Cornyn

Cornyn, Warner Bill to Reform Security Classification System Signed Into Law

December 22, 2023

Legislation Streamlines Declassification While Modernizing the Classification System & Reviewing Existing Security Clearances

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) released the following statements after their Sensible Classification Act, which increases accountability and oversight of the classification system, limits overclassification, and directs federal agencies to justify security clearance requirements, was signed into law as part of the Intelligence Authorization Act included in the National Defense Authorization Act:

“When it comes to sensitive information, Congress must strike the delicate balance between transparency and secrecy,” said Sen. Cornyn. “By modernizing and streamlining the declassification process, this legislation will help the U.S. stay one step ahead of our adversaries while also being transparent with the American people and our allies.”

“The intelligence committee has an important role in ensuring our government’s secrets are handled appropriately to ensure secrets remain secret, while ensuring classified information can be shared with mission partners,” said Sen. Warner.“As the recent case of unauthorized disclosures on the Discord media platform show, there is much work to be done. I look forward to continuing this bipartisan effort in the upcoming years.”

The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), James Lankford (R-OK), and Bob Casey (D-PA).

Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Brad Wenstrup (OH-02) and Abigail Spanberger (VA-07).


The classification system is in urgent need of reform. Technology has made it easier to classify files, but greater accountability and oversight is needed to ensure appropriate and timely declassification to rebuild trust between the government and the American people. Too many people have access to classified information, which contributes to rampant overclassification and lack of accountability.

The Sensible Classification Act:

  • Promotes efficient declassification for records under the Freedom of Information Act or Mandatory Declassification Review;
  • Requires training to promote sensible classification;
  • Improves the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) by allowing for the hiring of 12 staff subject to the availability of funds and allowing members of the Board to continue to serve up to one year after their term expires or until a successor is named, whichever is shorter;
  • Directs the federal government to develop a technology solution to the issue of classification and declassification and providing a recommendation to the President and Congress within one year;
  • And directs federal agencies to conduct a study on the necessity of number and types of security clearances with sufficient justification.