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

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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