Byrd: Czars are power grab by exec
By JOHN BRESNAHAN | 2/26/09 4:47 AM EST
West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the longest-serving Democratic senator, on Wednesday criticized President Barack Obama’s appointment of White House “czars” to oversee federal policy, saying these executive positions amount to a power grab by the executive branch.
Byrd complained in a letter to the president that his decision to create White House offices on health care reform, urban affairs policy, and energy and climate change “can threaten the constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.”
While it’s rare for him to criticize a president in his own party, Byrd is a stern constitutional scholar who has always stood up for the legislative branch’s role in checking the power of the White House. He repeatedly clashed with the Bush administration over executive power, and it appears he won’t spare the Obama administration either.