Help Move Presidential Records Reform Bill in Senate

The Presidential Records Act Amendments bill (H.R. 1255) is currently being prevented from a vote in the U.S. Senate for unknown reasons. Previously, it had been put on hold for several months by Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), who refused to state his reasons for doing so. The White House has threatened to veto H.R. 1255.

H.R. 1255 removes restrictions placed by President Bush’s 2001 Executive Order 13233 and enhances the Presidential Records Act, one of the nation’s most important open-government laws.

On March 14, 2007, by a vote of 333-93, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1255.

On October 2, Sen. Lieberman put out a press release calling for Senate passage of the bill.

Contact Senate Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and tell them of your support for H.R. 1255 and ask them to bring the bill to the floor for consideration.

Background

In November 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13233, which gave current and former Presidents and Vice Presidents broad authority to withhold Presidential records or delay their release indefinitely. The Presidential Records Act Amendments (H.R. 1255) would nullify the Bush executive order and re-establish procedures to ensure the timely release of Presidential records.

The records of the highest elected public office in the country, the President of the United States, belong to the people and are official evidence of government activities. Presidential records, preserved and made accessible by the National Archives, document the decisions and operation of the executive branch, contribute to cultural and historical understanding, and strengthen our government by the people.

For more information, please see briefing on H.R.1255 by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee* and NARA’s summary on the Presidential Records Act of 1978.

* One amendment, by Sen. Tom Coburn, has been added that extends the review period from 40 to 90 days.

About Jacob Roberts

Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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