NCH Urges Candidates to Endorse Presidential Records Bill

On December 7, 2007, the National Coalition for History and thirty other organizations sent a letter to four U.S. Senators currently running for president urging them to cosponsor the S. 886, “The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007.” The joint letter was sent to Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ). Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) is currently the only presidential candidate who has endorsed S. 886.

Presidential candidates Representatives Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Ron Paul (R-TX) voted for the House version of the bill (H.R. 1255) when it was approved last March.

In 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13233, giving current and former presidents and vice presidents, and their heirs, broad authority to withhold presidential records or delay their release. “The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007” (S. 886) would overturn Executive Order 13233 and re-establish procedures to ensure the timely release of presidential records that the Presidential Records Act of 1978 was designed to ensure.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee by voice vote this past summer. However, when the Democratic leadership sought to bring the bill to the floor on September 24, Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) objected to consideration of the bill. Senator Bunning was sharply criticized this week for holding up the bill in an editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal.