The budget bill that passed Congress Thursday included a provision to defund a number of White House czars including the “Health Care Czar,” the “Climate Change Czar,” the “Car Czar,” and the “Urban Affairs Czar.”
Ed Morrissey noted, earlier this week:
This list includes three of the most offensive “czars” in the Romanov wing of the Obama administration. Obama has an HHS Secretary in Kathleen Sebelius, so he doesn’t need a “czar” on health care. Likewise, his Cabinet includes a Secretary of Energy (Stephen Chu) and Interior (Ken Salazar), so why does the administration need a “climate change czar”? The government shouldn’t even be in the car business, so the car czar has to go. And while the “Urban Affairs Czar” hasn’t gotten much press, shouldn’t Shaun Donovan’s role as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development cover, er, urban affairs?
This evening HuffPo reports that ‘Obama had a message for Congress Friday: his so-called “czars” aren’t going anywhere.’
…on Friday night, Obama declared that he intends to ignore that part of the budget legislation, issuing a relatively rare “signing statement” after he inked the budget deal in which he argued that the legislative effort to eliminate those positions was an unconstitutional infringement on the executive branch.
“The President has well-established authority to supervise and oversee the executive branch, and to obtain advice in furtherance of this supervisory authority,” Obama wrote in a message to Congress. “The President also has the prerogative to obtain advice that will assist him in carrying out his constitutional responsibilities, and do so not only from executive branch officials and employees outside the White House, but also from advisers within it.
“Legislative efforts that significantly impede the President’s ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers,” he added. “Therefore, the executive branch will construe [the law as to] not to abrogate these Presidential prerogatives.”
Republicans were not impressed.
“It’s not surprising that the White House, having bypassed Congress to empower these ‘Czars’ is objecting to eliminating them,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Not surprisingly, the comments at HuffPo run along the lines of: “Good for you Mr. President !”
Does “executive authority” allow you to flout a law you just signed?
Obama issued two “signing statements”, Friday, the one on the czars and a statement strongly objecting to provisions in the legislation intended to bar the transfer of prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to the U.S., but did not go so far as to outright disregard the provisions. Rather, Obama said he wouldn’t accept any expansion of those restrictions, and would seek the repeal of the ones included in the legislation.
This, of course, represents another egregious flip flop of something he hammered Bush on, and campaigned against.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: When Congress offers you a bill, do you promise not to use presidential signings to get your way?OBAMA: “Yes… This is part of the whole theory of George Bush that he can make laws as he is going along. i disagree with that. i taught the Constitution for 10 years. i believe in the Constitution and I will obey the Constitution of the United States. We are not going to use signing statements as a way of doing an end run around Congress. All right?”