Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2009

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Article summary (how summaries work)

The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2009 (H.R. 35) limits the authority of presidents and former presidents to block the release of presidential records. The bill sets deadlines for the review of records prior to release, gives the incumbent president the authority to reject former presidents' claims of privilege, restricts the ability to assert privilege claims to presidents and former presidents, and eliminates the ability of vice presidents to make privilege claims concerning vice presidential records.

The bill also overturns Executive Order 13233, which was issued on November 1, 2001 by President George W. Bush. That order broadened the authority of presidents and former presidents to block the release of presidential records, extended that authority to former presidents' heirs, and granted similar powers to vice presidents concerning vice presidential records.[1].

H.R. 35 was passed by the House on January 7, 2009 and referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on January 8, 2009. On January 21, 2009, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13489 concerning presidential records, which revoked Executive Order 13233.[2]



Contents

Details

  • Sets a deadline for the review of presidential records selected by the Archivist of the United States for release. Current and former presidents would have 40 business days to review and raise objections prior to the release of the records.[3]
  • Gives the incumbent president the authority to reject former presidents' claims of executive privilege.[4]
  • Requires presidents to personally assert privilege claims. Assistants, relatives, and descendants would not be allowed to assert privilege claims on behalf of a former president.[5]
  • Eliminates the ability of vice presidents to assert executive privilege over vice presidential records.[6]
  • Overturns Executive Order 13233 issued by President George W. Bush in 2001.[7]


Consideration

House

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) and 5 co-sponsors from both parties, passed the House without amendment by a vote of 359-58 on January 7, 2009.


Senate

On January 8, 2009, the bill as passed by the House was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.[8]

Articles and resources

References

  1. Ken Herman, Historians hope Obama will undo records order, Houston Chronicle, January 3, 2009
  2. Executive Order 13489 - Presidential Records, www.archives.gov.
  3. Speaker Nancy Pelosi's page on Accountability and Transparency under "Current Legislation."
  4. Speaker Nancy Pelosi's page on Accountability and Transparency under "Current Legislation."
  5. Speaker Nancy Pelosi's page on Accountability and Transparency under "Current Legislation."
  6. Speaker Nancy Pelosi's page on Accountability and Transparency under "Current Legislation."
  7. Rep. Ed Towns' Press Release, January 7, 2009.
  8. OpenCongress’ info page on the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2009.

External resources

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