White House: Policy ‘czars’ won’t testify

By Stephen Dinan
Washington Times
October 23, 2009

The White House has told Congress it will reject calls for many of President Obama’s policy czars to testify before Congress – a decision senators said goes against the president’s promises of transparency and openness and treads on Congress’ constitutional mandate to investigate the administration’s actions.

Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, said White House counsel Greg Craig told her in a meeting Wednesday that they will not make available any of the czars who work in the White House and don’t have to go through Senate confirmation. She said he was “murky” on whether other czars outside of the White House would be allowed to come before Congress.

Miss Collins said that doesn’t make sense when some of those czars are actually making policy or negotiating on behalf of Mr. Obama.

“I think Congress should be able to call the president’s climate czar, Carol Browner, the energy and environment czar, to ask her about the negotiations she conducted with the automobile industry that led to very significant policy changes with regard to emissions standards,” Miss Collins said at a hearing Thursday that examined the proliferation of czars.

The debate goes to the heart of weighty constitutional issues about separation of powers. The president argues that he should be allowed to have advisers who are free to give him confidential advice without having to fear being called to testify about it. Democrats and Republicans in Congress, though, argue that those in office who actually craft policy should be able to be summoned to testify because they do more than just give the president advice.

At issue are the 18 positions Miss Collins says Mr. Obama has created since he took office. Of those, she says 10 – the White House says eight – are in the executive office and not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests or requests for testimony.

The rest of the article is at the Washington Times.

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