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Presidential Records Act Update

The Presidential Records Act has again been brought to the floor and again has been put on hold by a Republican Senator. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) brought the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 (H.R. 1255) to the floor on January 22, 2008. He did this in the hopes that the bill could be expedited under the Senate’s unanimous consent rule. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was able to block this bill from being considered, with no explanation as to his reasons for doing so.

If you live in Alabama, please contact Sen. Sessions and express your support for H.R. 1255.


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.

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

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