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GOP Senator Puts Secret Hold On Bill Restoring Public Access To Presidential Records

By Matt Corley  

"GOP Senator Puts Secret Hold On Bill Restoring Public Access To Presidential Records"

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coburn.jpg In Nov. 2001, President Bush signed an executive order that historians called “unprecedented” and “would turn the 1978 Presidential Records Act on its head by allowing such materials to be kept secret ‘in perpetuity.’”

In March, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), along with Reps. Russell Platts (R-PA), Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Dan Burton (R-IN) introduced a bill that would “nullify” Bush’s 2001 order “and restore public access to presidential records.” The bill passed the House with a 333-93 vote and the Senate Government Affairs Committee agreed in June to move its version to the floor for a vote, but the bill was stalled when an anonymous Republican senator put a hold on it:

A fight over White House secrecy has taken a new twist, with Senate officials confirming Wednesday that a Republican senator is secretly blocking a bill that would reverse President Bush’s 2001 executive order allowing ex-presidents to seal their records indefinitely. [...]

Suspicion for the hold initially focused on three senators — Ted Stevens of Alaska, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, and George Voinovich of Ohio — who objected in committee to a provision giving ex-presidents 40 days to review document requests. That was changed to 90 days to address their concerns.

Aides to Sens. Stevens and Voinovich said Wednesday that their bosses are not blocking the bill. Coburn aides didn’t respond to inquiries.

If Coburn is the Senator blocking the bill from coming to a vote, it wouldn’t be the only bill that he is currently blocking. Last month, Coburn placed a hold on a suicide prevention bill for military veterans that was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).

You can contact Coburn’s office here or call it at 202-224-5754.

UPDATE: In the comments, someone from Coburn’s staff says that he is not the Senator putting a hold on the bill:

The office of Sen. Tom Coburn would like to state for the record that he is not holding this bill related to presidential records. It is true that he placed a hold on the bill following its passage through the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in June, but has since worked out his minor concern with the office of Sen. Joseph Lieberman at which time he lifted his hold.

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