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Republicans Challenge Obama On Army of Unaccountable Czars

Several Republican U.S. Representatives held a press conference Wednesday, September 16, 2009 to discuss legislative ways to reign in the power of Obama's nearly 40 czars.

Leading the effort was Rep.  Marsha Blackburn (TN), who is introducing House Con. Resolution 185. It expresses the sense of Congress that calls upon President Obama to certify the qualifications and responsibilities of czars. Her resolution states, in part:

Expressing the sense of Congress that the President should issue, and Congress should hold hearings on, a report and a certification regarding the responsibilities, authori­ties, and powers of his "czars".

Whereas Congress recognizes that the Constitution vests in the executive branch the power to appoint Presidential advisers whose communications to the President are pro­tected under executive privilege;

Whereas Congress recognizes the importance of coordinating executive agencies, and recognizes that Presidents often appoint special assistants, commonly referred to as "czars", to manage this coordination with regard to important areas of national policy, and to advise the Presi­dent;

Whereas at least 36 czars have been appointed in 2009, rais­ing concerns about the Federal government's provision of adequate transparency and accountability to the public; and

Whereas members of Congress are concerned that the ap­pointment of these czars and their actions may subvert the legislative and oversight authority of Congress under Article I of the Constitution...

In addition, Rep. Patrick McHenry (NC) is calling on Obama's czars to appear before a congressional hearing to testify about their roles and responsibilities. McHenry noted: "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 legislators are offering bills and resolutions that are designed to make Obama's czars subject to Senate confirmation. One bill will "sunset" all of the czars not confirmed by the Senate by December 31, 2009.

Last week, Rep. Jack Kingston introduced the Czar Accountability Act to stop the salaries of czars. The legislation would bar the use of appropriation funds to pay either the expenses or salaries of members of task forces, councils or similar offices established by President Obama and headed by a person appointed inappropriately to such a post without the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.



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