Magazine article American Libraries

Bill Seeks to Reverse Presidential Records Order. (News Fronts Washington)

Magazine article American Libraries

Bill Seeks to Reverse Presidential Records Order. (News Fronts Washington)

Article excerpt

A bipartisan panel of House Republicans and Democrats introduced a bill April 11 to rescind President Bush's executive order allowing incumbent or former presidents to withhold the release of their presidential papers (AL, Dec. 2001, p. 13). The legislation also sets a maximum 40-day time limit for a president or former president to claim a privilege for any records the national archivist decides to release.

The bill's chief sponsor, Rep. Stephen Horn (R-Calif.), said the order was a violation of "the letter and spirit" of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, which called for the release of presidential papers 12 years after a president leaves office.

The Washington Post reported April 12 that 20 Democrats and two Republicans joined Horn as sponsors, including Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), chair of the House Government Reform Committee, and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), the panel's ranking Democrat. Waxman called the Bush order a "particularly objectionable" decision in a series of administration moves "undermining the public's right to know."

The public-interest group Public Citizen filed a lawsuit in November to block Bush's action, and the American Library Association joined other groups in voicing "serious concerns" over the order (AL, Jan. …

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