The issue of the federal government’s exploding cadre of un-appointed, unconfirmed mandarins has festered since the nascent days of the Obama administration — and I remind you that opposition to Obama’s czar fetish was, ahem, bipartisan.
Doubts about “czarism” were expressed long before the Jones dust-up by [the late] Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd (W.Va.), who wrote to Obama in February that “the rapid and easy accumulation of power by White House staff can threaten the constitutional system of checks and balances.
“At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials. … As presidential assistants, they are not accountable to Congress, to Cabinet officials and to virtually anyone but the president.”
Also this month, Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.) wrote Obama, asking him to square his naming “czars” with the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, which provides that executive posts should be created by law and subject to Senate confirmation.
Feingold is trying to get the administration to cooperate in hearings before his Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, and Collins and Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) are discussing hearings in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
We hope the administration will cooperate with both panels and, to the extent that “czars” are making policy and can’t be questioned by Congress, that Members will “call out” the White House.
Other Dems who have expressed concerns about Obama czar abuse in the past: Dianne Feinstein and Byron Dorgan.
The House GOP is ready to tackle the scourge anew:
A group of House Republicans introduced a bill on Wednesday to rein in the various “czars” in the Obama administration.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and 28 other House Republicans introduced legislation to do away with the informal, paid advisers President Obama has employed over the past two years.
The legislation, which was introduced in the last Congress but was not allowed to advance under Democratic control, would do away with the 39 czars Obama has employed during his administration.
The bill defines a czar as “a head of any task force, council, policy office within the Executive Office of the President, or similar office established by or at the direction of the President” who is appointed to a position that would otherwise require Senate confirmation.
It’s time for the rest of the Democrat minority to “reach across the aisle” and rein in out-of-control bureaucrats’ power with a “new spirit of cooperation.”