If House Republicans have their way, the Obama administration’s “czars” will no longer be able to dictate pay at bailed-out mega-firms or negotiate new emissions standards for U.S. vehicles. An amendment attached to the 2011 spending package, which passed the House last week, would strip funding for a select list of the so-called czars.
Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the author of the proposal, hailed the vote as a step toward ending the administration’s “shadow government.”
“Hardworking American families should not be forced to pay millions of dollars to fund these czars, who are implementing radical policies under the cloak of darkness,” Scalise said in a written statement.
Though the Obama administration is not the first to appoint high-level officials without Senate approval, they’ve become a popular target for Republicans since President Obama took office.
The Scalise amendment was a refined version of a catch-all anti-czar bill he introduced earlier in the session. That bill called for effectively shutting down any Executive Office task force or office led by an official who had not received Senate confirmation. At the time, Scalise estimated that 39 officials would fall under that description.
The latest amendment, which would still have to survive a vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, narrowed that list down to nine positions. Several of them have been responsible for shepherding high-profile policy changes that Republicans opposed practically in lockstep.
Here’s the kind of “czar” activities that Republicans would stop if their amendment becomes law (Highlights):
— No more administration agreements on greenhouse-gas emissions. On the list for funding elimination is the assistant to the president for energy and climate change, known colloquially as the “climate czar.” That official, Carol Browner, is expected to leave the position, following a tenure during which she helped strike a deal to increase fuel economy standards and require greenhouse-gas emissions standards for automakers.
— No more edicts on executive pay. The Scalise proposal targets the special master for TARP executive compensation — also known as the pay czar, who until recently was Kenneth Feinberg.
— No more “secret” meetings on the health care law. In addition to the “special master” post, the Scalise amendment would target the White House Office of Health Reform. The longtime director of that office, Nancy-Ann DeParle, was just promoted to White House deputy chief of staff.
— No more visits to foreign countries to convince them to take Guantanamo Bay detainees. That’s been the job of Daniel Fried, special envoy to oversee the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. He’s tasked with facilitating the closure of Guantanamo and finding homes for those prisoners deemed fit for release.
– No more trips to United Nations climate summits to negotiate western commitments to developing nations. The other “climate” czar, special envoy for climate change Todd Stern, has been an administration point man for these summits, most recently in Cancun, Mexico. The Scalise amendment would eliminate funding for that job.
— No more plans to close auto dealerships en masse. The Obama administration’s Task Force on the Auto Industry pressed General Motors and Chrysler to cut costs as part of bailout and restructuring negotiations, resulting in plans from the companies to close hundreds of dealerships.
The other positions targeted by the Scalise House amendment are:
— Special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation
— White House director of urban affairs
— Chief diversity officer for the Federal Communications Commission
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~ As I post this I feel broken wings to keep hoping the GOP can make any of their hard work happen. We have Reid. We have Obama. Is it futile to keep knocking their heads against a brick wall? Today Rahm won. Although it’s NO surprise, I fear we have been asleep at the wheel too long and they have been planning the overthrow for, what? About 50 years now? There is absolutely no doubt in my mind, at my age, that I see this ending only two ways. Impeachment or What is happening in the middle east. ~JP