Experts don't find issue with policy czars

Oct. 7, 2009 at 9:25 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama's use of policy "czars" is legal, provided the advisers don't overreach their authority, constitutional experts said at a Senate hearing.

Congressional members from both sides of the aisle have complained about Obama's use of the appointed czars to coordinate departments on issues such as the environment and healthcare. They have sent letters to the White House saying they think appointing the such high-level advisers skirts the Senate's confirmation process as outlined in the Constitution.

But five constitutional experts testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution Tuesday concluded the president has the right to appoint independent advisers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"The president's personal staff are independently responsible only to the president -- and in the end he is the only czar that is," said Bradley H. Patterson, a presidential scholar. "And he is accountable to the American electorate."

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, among the lawmakers questioning the czars, said in a statement the issue was not dead. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, where she is the ranking GOP member, scheduled a similar hearing next week.

"The appointments of so many czars have muddied the waters, causing confusion and risking miscommunication going forward," Collins said.

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