If a member of the United States Senate, you know, serving in a branch of government which is supposed to be overseeing the executive branch, doesn’t know how many czars there are, that suggests these officials are operating without adequate legislative oversight.
Over at Nice Deb‘s blog, I chanced upon this statement from Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander:
Commenting on the same video, Ed Morrissey observes that the GOP has begun to pushback on czars, starting “in the Senate, the legislative body Barack Obama has bypassed with his proliferation of unaccountable commissars in government.”
Morrissey links a Washington Post op-ed by Alexander’s colleague from Texas, Kay Bailey Hutchison, who raises the constitutional question:
Unfortunately — and in direct contravention of the Framers’ intentions — virtually no one can say with certainty what these individuals do or what limits are placed on their authority. We don’t know if they are influencing or implementing policy. We don’t know if they possess philosophical views or political affiliations that are inappropriate or overreaching in the context of their work.
This is precisely the kind of ambiguity the Framers sought to prevent. Article One tasks the legislative branch with establishing federal agencies, defining what they do, determining who leads them and overseeing their operations. Article Two requires the president to seek the advice and consent of the Senate when appointing certain officials to posts of consequence. Thus, authority is shared between government branches, guaranteeing the American people transparency and accountability.
Let’s bring this issue into the light–and not just for the sake of the Constitution, whose 222nd birthday we celebrate tomorrow, but also for the sake of the transparency Barack Obama promised in his campaign and still touts on the White House website.