On September 24, Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) objected to floor consideration of the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007” (H.R. 1255), at least temporarily holding up a vote on the bill. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sought to have the bill brought up under the Senate’s unanimous consent rule that allows non-controversial bills to be considered on an expedited basis. When she did so, Senator Bunning objected to consideration of the bill.
Senator Bunning did not state the reasons for his opposition to the bill on the floor. Calls to his office from the National Coalition for History and the media seeking clarification of his position have not been returned. This week, a White House spokesperson reiterated the administration’s threat to veto the bill should it pass Congress. It is not clear whether Senator Bunning’s actions in blocking consideration of the bill are at the behest of the White House.
Passage of the bill is even more important given the recent ruling by a federal judge invalidating the section of Executive Order 13233 that allowed former presidents to indefinitely delay the release of records.
The National Coalition for History is asking everyone in the historical and archival community to CALL Senator Bunning’s office to ask him to lift his objection and allow the presidential records reform bill (H.R. 1255) to come to the Senate floor for a vote. Senator Bunning’s direct office number is (202)-224-4343. A briefing paper on the bill is available on the NCH website by clicking here. (H.R. 1255)
In this instance, we are asking that you call his office since e-mails from non-Kentucky residents are screened out and not delivered, and regular mail takes weeks to get through the postal security mechanisms in place after the anthrax scare of a few years ago.
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 of 2007 would nullify the Bush executive order and re-establish procedures to ensure the timely release of presidential records.
On March 14, 2007, by a vote of 333-93, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1255.