February 25th, 2009
11:41 AM ET
6 years ago

Byrd gives Obama heat over 'Czars'

Sen. Byrd has written a letter to the President.
Sen. Byrd has written a letter to the President.

(CNN) - One day after his address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama is taking heat from the most senior Democratic senator over the recent appointments of a handful of White House "czars."

Robert Byrd, the Senate pro tempore from West Virginia, said in a letter to the president he is concerned the appointments of new so called 'czars' in the offices of health, urban affairs and climate change are not subject to Senate approval and could therefore shield information from congress under the right of executive privilege.

"Too often, I have seen these lines of authority and responsibility become tangled and blurred, sometimes purposely, to shield information and to obscure the decision-making process," Byrd wrote in the letter.

“As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials, and to virtually anyone but the president," he continued. "In too many instances, White House staff have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability."

Byrd also urged the president to prohibit the right of executive privilege from appointees' in agencies overseen by the Senate.

Byrd, 91, is marking his 50th year in the Senate.


Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama • Robert Byrd
soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. Elle Williams

    @shari and Kman

    Wow!! You guys are some hateful people. You know, for a man who preaches unity, hope, change and inclusiveness,

    February 25, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  2. proud army navy mom

    how come we never hear ole man byrd kicking on the repugs and all their lies, but we hear from him now?

    Governor (fake democrat) Bredsen of TN is turning down portions of the stimulus package relating to unemployment.

    This is a war on poor people. Please call Gov Bredson @ 16157412001. He thinks he can get away with it because his term ends and he can't be re-elected.

    February 25, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  3. obama-mama

    Obama is asking for transparency. I'm sure this would include the czars he appointed. These people crack me up. All of a sudden they want to do work

    February 25, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  4. Joe

    Off to Gitmo!...hasn't he head you cannot question the Messiah!

    February 25, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. AnnMM

    Democrat and huge Obama supporter here... Are you people kidding me? What is wrong with a proper checks and balance system? It has served this country well (ignoring the past 8 years) for over two centuries.

    Well said Senator Byrd.

    The rest of you.. President Obama is not God. The "he's always right" comments are as annoying as the twits that post "impeach the Messiah".

    February 25, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  6. Anna

    I just hope the media can help keep these 'czars' in check.

    February 25, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  7. Darryl MIller

    Please, don't beatup on Grandpa Senator Robert Byrd, His staffer wrote this. Senator Byrd can not form a sentence so with that I ask that we all keep hi in outr prayers..

    February 25, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  8. Lois

    Mr. Byrd you are absolutely right..........that is what obama wants; reporting to him only........what transparency........

    February 25, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  9. Moe, NY

    Get over it Byrd....sit back and allow our new President to bring about change. The American public have no patience left for this nonsense.

    February 25, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  10. Elle Williams

    @shari and Kman

    Wow!! You guys are some hateful people. You know, for a man who preaches unity, hope, change and inclusiveness, he sure does have some pretty foul mouth and discriminating followers. Nevermind that the Senator make a point...the only thing you liberals see is someone who doesn't agree withyour beloved president. I suggest that you embrace the fact the Obama is not right all of the time before it's to late. President Obama still has to be hed accountable and as far as our Constitution goes, last time I check, the Senator is entitled to his own opinion!

    February 25, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Big Bear

    Have to agree with Byrd. Where are these people held liable? They are not, yet they have the ear of the President on a daily basis. We have checks & balances for a reason.

    February 25, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  12. No Vaseline

    He does have a point though. Guess not all 90 year-olds are as senile as I thought (Except John McCain)

    February 25, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. Tia

    Ironically Czar is sadly appropriate.

    February 25, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  14. Matt in MN

    The first 2 comments that made it past the mod are quite funny... so we shouldn't have transparency from a President who campaigned on being the most transparent President ever?

    Didn't the last administration teach us that we shouldn't allow the executive branch to shield various items away from Congress and conduct so much in secret? Or, is it now OK because it's Obama?

    February 25, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  15. REG in AZ

    Byrd's concern is based on his experience which witnessed an exaggerated attempt to shield the White House from any oversight by congress under the arrogant, deceptive and irresponsible Bush-Cheney administration. Obama has promised transparency and accountability and so far has demonstrated efforts to fulfill the promises. Give him a chance.

    February 25, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. Sue - Missouri

    Shari – You hit it right on the nose! I love senior citizens as well. But I think after a certain age in the "WH as a senator or congress person" we need to set limitation to no more than 8 years! Seniors can do little to make the necessary changes because most of them are stuck in the past. It's time to move forward, and we have a President that understand we need to build the future for our children. People like Byrd, and McCain just don't get it. I said this when Reagan was POTUS and I was in my early 20's.... He didn't get it either – People we need change – the US will implode with out it. Our President is trying to move the US to the future and the Ole people get resisting!

    February 25, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. Boston Irish

    Hey, the truth hurts, but it's still the truth.

    February 25, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. Q

    Thank you for raising a valid point. There is a process and he circumvented that process. Whatever happened to "government transparency" that was promised? Still haven't seen that yet...

    February 25, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  19. Concerned in MA

    This is the first intelligent thing I've ever heard from this man.

    February 25, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. Larry of Massachusetts

    Byrd is correct and Obama is breaking another campaign promise, that of transparency.

    Having a "Czar" over anything sounds like we are regressing back into the days of Russian Socialism. What's next, "Comrade Secretary"?

    February 25, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  21. Matthew, Detroit

    BYRD is correct.

    Too many new appointments and jobs that the American people will pay for and NO one to monitor these people. No Senate hearings. Why do we even need these appointments. Why are the people who did these jobs in the past and headed these departments not getting the work done.

    We are building bigger goverment and while building that goverment we are not having any goverment oversight.

    Bigger goverment. Bigger spending. This is a recipe to increase the disaster that occurred under the last 8 years of bad spending and financial thrift. We are fixing everything expcept for the problem of the mortgages.

    February 25, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. tki

    czars???? come on people is this Russia???

    February 25, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  23. Matthew, Detroit

    Shari NY, KMAN,,,,

    Do you understand that this guy is a very strong left wing liberal right up there with Kennedy.

    I dont agree with this guy but he is one of the Kings of the liberal party. You should love him. It is amazing that you would rip him.

    February 25, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. bruce

    yeah, Byrd should quit encouraging Barrack to be transparent and actually live up to a campaign promise. Obama might actually have to tell the truth one of these days.

    February 25, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. Concerned citizen

    This Grand Wizard's time is long gone. Root out the DNC racists!

    February 25, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8