U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (PA-15) has co-sponsored legislation which would revoke funding for the Administration’s “czars.” This legislation, H.R. 3226 - the Czar Accountability and Reform (CZAR) Act, was introduced by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA).
Since the beginning of the year, the Obama Administration has created numerous “czar” positions — the Car Czar, the Green Jobs Czar, the TARP Czar, the Stimulus Accountability Czar, and others. Each “czar” is the President’s point person in overseeing and coordinating the actions of various departments and agencies to implement policy. The U.S. Constitution requires that any appointee exercising significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States be appointed in the manner prescribed by the Appointments Clause (Article II, Section 2).
More specifically, the Appointments Clause delineates two classes of officers – “principal officers,” such as Cabinet secretaries, who require Senate confirmation, and “inferior officers,” who do not. The Administration has subverted Constitutional balance by appointing high-ranking officials who report directly to the President and who seemingly exercise wide-ranging powers that should qualify them in the class of officers that must be reviewed by the Senate.
“Although their actual job descriptions suggest they are subordinate to Cabinet members, this is merely window-dressing,” Congressman Dent said. “The term ‘czar’ implies absolute power, something that should already raise warning flags in a nation built on the principle of separation of powers. In town halls in my district throughout August, I heard from countless constituents who are alarmed by the number of ‘czars’ in the Administration and the broad powers they are exercising.
“There are times and issues where it is necessary for departments and agencies to coordinate across their jurisdictional boundaries. I understand the need for an officer who will oversee those efforts. But these individuals must be accountable and their actions must be transparent. This legislation will restore the checks and balances that are crucial to our representative democracy.”
The Executive Branch has a long history of establishing “czar” positions – in fact the media first used the term to unflatteringly describe certain Presidential advisors during the Franklin Roosevelt Administration. However, no recent administration has had more than three or four such officials – and those officials, such as the “drug czar,” were visible and accountable. A lack of oversight distinguishes the “czars” in the Obama Administration.
“I believe the President has every right to name advisors and Cabinet officials he wants, provided they have no significant legal issues or other problematic history,” Congressman Dent said. “But he has an obligation to get Senate approval for individuals who wield significant authority to shape policy for the American people.”