GOP Rep. Wants ’44 Czars’ to Testify Before Congress

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009 at 9:47 am

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is calling for “the 44 appointed ‘czars’ of the Obama Administration” to appear before a congressional hearing “to testify about their roles and responsibilities.” McHenry:

If the czars have high-level, decision-making authority as their titles would indicate, then it is my concern that their appointment without Senate approval represents a circumvention of our Constitutionally-mandated confirmation process.  On the other hand, if the czars have no actual power, then I am equally concerned that taxpayers are fronting the bill for the salaries of these figureheads and their staff.

The problem, as I noted yesterday, is that these huge lists of “czars” include people who’ve been confirmed by the Senate, like John Holdren, Obama’s science adviser, and people who have been labeled “czars” in the media even though their jobs were created by acts of Congress, like Director of National Intelligence John Brennan. Rep. Jack Kingston’s (R-Ga.) list of 34 “czars” includes no less than seven people who have been confirmed by the Senate. Who’s on McHenry’s list, which is 10 names longer?

McHenry’s letter to the Committee on Oversight is below the fold:

September 9, 2009

Chairman Edolphus Towns                        Ranking Member Darrell Issa
Committee on Oversight                            Committee on Oversight
& Government Reform                               & Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives                   U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515                            Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Towns and Ranking Member Issa:

I respectfully request a hearing by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the responsibilities of the Obama Administration’s various “czars.”

Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution provides that the President “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint high government officials.”  The Senate’s role is clearly defined in this process, requiring its advice and consent to presidential appointments to high-level positions in Cabinet departments and independent agencies.

Since taking office in January, President Obama has appointed 44 policy adviser “czars” with positions of responsibility ranging from conducting our nation’s foreign policy to overhauling our health care system.  These czars are neither vetted by the Senate nor required to testify before Congress on their activities.  Furthermore, the scope and limitations of their authority still remain unclear.

Each of the two possible scenarios here is troubling.  If the czars have high-level, decision-making authority as their titles would indicate, then it is my concern that their appointment without Senate approval represents a circumvention of our Constitutionally-mandated confirmation process.  On the other hand, if the czars have no actual power, then I am equally concerned that taxpayers are fronting the bill for the salaries of these figureheads and their staff.

Just this past weekend, the President’s Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones, resigned after details about his radical views and previous inappropriate comments surfaced in the media.  Mr. Jones’ questionable past would have been brought to light before he took his position had he been vetted by the Senate.  His ability to slip into a position of power without due Congressional diligence only further underscores the necessity for a confirmation process.

I ask that the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in its capacity as investigator of our federal bureaucracy, bring these appointed czars before the full committee to testify on their authority and responsibilities.  The American public deserves no less than the transparency and accountability promised by this Administration of its appointed officials.

Sincerely,

Patrick McHenry
Member of Congress

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Comments

7 Comments

Clarice Feldman on The Czars « POWIP
Pingback posted September 9, 2009 @ 10:20 am

[...] UPDATE: GOP Rep. wants Czars to testify regarding their responsibilities. [...]


ThinkingMeat · Too many “czars”? Not really
Pingback posted September 9, 2009 @ 11:43 am

[...] UPDATE 09/09 11:43 AM EDT: It is now evident that the Republicans are determined to waste as much time as possible on this nonsense. [...]


jeninoh
Comment posted September 9, 2009 @ 3:05 pm

ah, the cause celebre of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity becomes the marching chant of the GOP…

Imagine that.

By the way, these people are not actually called czars… that is a nickname given them by the press corps because their actual titles are very long.


strangely_enough
Comment posted September 9, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

If they happen to get former drug czar Barry McCaffrey to testify, can they ask him how much money he made through Pentagon contracts while simultaneously acting as a TV military analyst?


Andreams
Comment posted September 9, 2009 @ 4:46 pm

Since there are no government employees with “Czar” as a title, this is a no brainer, in more ways than one. Let's start calling all congressional staffers “Czar” and bring them up before committee.


What, have I ever lied to you before? « Kyle Schmidt
Pingback posted September 9, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

[...] have I ever lied to you before? Today, over at Think Progress Matt Corley noticed a piece by the Washington Independent’s Dave Weigel saying that Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) has [...]


¿Una administración incompetente y sin supervisión? « Sarah Palin en Español
Pingback posted September 22, 2009 @ 7:37 pm

[...] El 9 de septiembre el congresista Patrick McHenry (Republicano de Carolina del Norte) pide que los “44” (no creo que sean tantos) zares nombrados por la administración Obama comparezcan ante el congreso para explicar sus roles y responsabilidades. Para formalizar la petición envió una carta al presidente del Comité de Supervisión y Reforma de la Cámara de Representantes… [...]


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