Sep 9, 2009
Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10), a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, today called for a hearing with the 44 appointed “czars” of the Obama Administration.
In a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee, McHenry requested that all 44 czars be called to testify about their roles and responsibilities. Such a hearing would help determine the questionable constitutionality of high-level Administration officials serving without Senate confirmation.
“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,” states the letter from Congressman McHenry.
The letter reads as follows:
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.
Member of Congress