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Tag Archive: Jim Bunning

Government Secrets

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Back in September, I blogged about a hold being put on a bill that would undo the damage done when President Bush issued an Executive Order allowing presidential records to remain secret indefinitely. The bill, Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007, passed the House by a vote of 333 to 93. A bipartisan group of Senators cosponsored the bill which Senator Lieberman swiftly ushered through The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in June of 2007. Its momentum stalled when a Senator put a secret hold on the bill so it could not be voted on by Unanimous Consent in the Senate.

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Presidential Records In the Dark

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It's interesting to watch what happens in Congress when "because that's the way we've always done it" no longer becomes an option. For years, Senators have put secret holds on bills they wanted to block. These anonymous objections have been used by both parties to bring to a screeching halt legislation that has the support of a majority of the Members. Sunlight has long-championed putting that tired tradition to rest. A provision we lobbied for in the recently-enacted Honest Leadership and Open Government Act does that, more or less, by requiring Senators to come clean about their holds after five days. Ironically, we've seen the results of this provision on two important transparency related measures.

Paul Blumenthal blogged about Senator Ensign's hold on S. 223, the Senate Campaign Finance Disclosure Parity Act, earlier in the week. We have reason to wonder whether the hold was Ensign's doing all along. Similarly, Senator Jim Bunning now has an objection to moving forward with HR 1255, the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007. The bill would overturn an outrageous Executive Order that would keep presidential records hidden from public view indefinitely.

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