White House to Keep Obama’s ‘Czars’ from Testifying Before Congress
CNSNews.com) – The White House is not going to allow the president’s newly created “czars” to testify before Congress.
White House Counsel Greg Craig has indicated that he will refuse to allow any of the 18 new “czar” positions created by President Obama to testify before Congress, according to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Collins revealed during a committee hearing Thursday that she had spoken with Craig, who had earlier sent a letter on behalf of the president, and that Craig told her persoanlly that Congress would not get a chance to ask fundamental questions of the czars about their roles and responsibilities.
“Indeed, yesterday when I was talking to Greg Craig, the president’s legal counsel, he made it very clear that the White House would prohibit any of these officials with significant policy responsibility from coming to testify before us if they are located within the Executive Office of the President,” Collins said in her written opening statement.
Former Homeland Security “czar” Tom Ridge told CNSNews.com he disagreed with the White House counsel’s decision to bar all of the czars from testifying – but he “understood” it.
“I disagree with that, although I do think that presidents are entitled to appoint advisors,” Ridge told CNSNews.com.
Ridge, whose post was created in 2001 and would be elevated in 2003 to Cabinet level -- as the first Secretary of Homeland Security -- testified at the Thursday hearing, which was held to examine the constitutionality of Obama’s expanded use of “czars” to serve as policy advisors and inter-departmental policy coordinators.
In September, Collins and five Republican colleagues – Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.); Christopher Bond (R-Mo.); Pat Roberts (R-Kan.); Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Robert Bennett (R-Utah) -- sent a letter to the president expressing their “growing concern about the proliferation of ‘czars’” in his administration, which they said “raise(s) serious issues of accountability, transparency, and oversight.”
While not all of the czar positions were problematic, the letter identified 18 new positions created by Obama that had not been reviewed by the Senate nor subjected to any kind of oversight or scrutiny.