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Rep. Elijah E. Cummings
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings

WASHINGTON -- Legislation crafted by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings that would speed the release of certain White House records won unanimous approval from the House of Representatives on Wednesday and now goes to President Barack Obama's desk.

The Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments would shorten the timeline for some White House documents to be released and it would require federal employees who use their personal email for official business to copy or forward that email to their official account for archiving purposes.

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The bill passed the Senate unanimously in September.

"There are not many bills that make it through both the House and Senate without even a hint of opposition, but this is one of them," said Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat.

Under current law, presidents can restrict access to their records for up to 12 years after they leave office. After that time, they may continue to restrict access by securing executive orders signed by the current president.

Cummings' bill would keep the 12-year window in place. But, after that, former presidents would have up to 90 days to object -- to formally assert executive privilege -- or the records would be released. The measure would require an assertion of privilege be affirmed by the sitting president or by a court order.

The White House has not indicated whether President Barack Obama will sign the measure.

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