Presidential Records Bill Scheduled for Senate Markup

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has announced its intention to mark up the Presidential Records Reform Act (H.R. 1255/S. 886) on June 13.

The National Coalition for History is asking everyone in the historical and archival community to contact the members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to urge them to approve the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007.” All Senators can be reached via the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.

This marks a major milestone for the legislation. Favorable action by the committee would clear the bill for floor action in the Senate. The House of Representatives passed the “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 (H.R. 1255)” earlier this year by a vote of 333-93. This total is well above the 2/3rds vote that would be needed to override a threatened veto by the Bush administration.

Under the Presidential Records Act, presidential records are supposed to be released to historians and the public 12 years after the end of a presidential administration. In November 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13233 that overturned an executive order issued by President Reagan and gave the current president, former presidents and their families, and vice presidents broad authority to withhold presidential records or delay their release indefinitely. The “Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007” would overturn the Bush executive order and establish procedures to ensure timely access to presidential records.