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Presidential Records Act

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The Presidential Records Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 22) was intended to make presidential documents available to the public after 12 years. The Act was passed in 1978 following the Watergate scandal "to underscore the fact that presidential records belong to the American people, not to the president," according to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).[1] In 2001, however, the Bush administration issued an executive order that required current and former presidents to authorize the release of papers, and granted additional authority to vice presidents to do the same. The new restrictions could allow presidents, vice presidents, and their heirs to prevent almost all documents from becoming public. President Bush later threatened to veto any effort to restore the bill's original intent and override his 2001 executive order.[2]

Attempts to restore the Presidential Records Act following 2001 executive order

During congressional investigations surrounding the late 2006 firings of eight U.S. attorneys, in which it was suspected that the White House worked with the Justice Department to facilitate political firings and hirings, it was revealed that White House staffers frequently used outside email accounts to avoid having their communications fall under the Presidential Records Act.[3]

House passes restoration of Presidential Records Act

On March 14, 2007, the House passed the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 (H.R.1255) by a veto-proof margin of 333-93.[4]

<USbillinfo congress="110" bill="H.R.1255" />

<USvoteinfo year="2007" chamber="house" rollcall="143" />

Senate action

On June 13, 2007, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the legislation (S.886) by a voice vote. The White House threatened to veto the legislation, and senators were not sure whether there were enough votes to override a presidential veto. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.), stated "I’m honestly not sure...there are concerns in the committee, so we’ll have to negotiate some amendments before we get to the floor."[5]

<USbillinfo congress="110" bill="S.886" />

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

Sources

  1. Faiz Shakir, Nico Pitney, Amanda Terkel, and Satyam Khanna, "E-Mail Evasaion," The Progress Report, March 30, 2007.
  2. Martin Kady II, "Presidential Records Bill Approved by Senate Committee, Despite Threat of Veto," CQ, June 13, 2007.
  3. Faiz Shakir, Nico Pitney, Amanda Terkel, and Satyam Khanna, "E-Mail Evasaion," The Progress Report, March 30, 2007.
  4. "H.R.1255," OpenCongress, March 14, 2007.
  5. Martin Kady II, "Presidential Records Bill Approved by Senate Committee, Despite Threat of Veto," CQ, June 13, 2007.

External resources

External articles