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

Byrd gives Obama heat over 'Czars'

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/25/art.byrd.gi.jpg caption="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. Paul DObro

    It is great that members of the same party can desent on valid issues like this, although approving every czar would be hard. Byrd makes a valid point and the kind of thing we need in this country.

    As for the Republicans who are expected to vote in a block with no desenting opinions, you guys could learn a few things (if you are capable of that).

    February 25, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. GERRY


    February 25, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  3. Bipartisan

    I am an Independent backer of Obama but I am very offended by the terrible remarks against senior citizens posted here by his supporters. Do you people understand how huge the senior citizen voting block is? They had a BIG part of Obama being elected. But go ahead and insult them and lose their votes you idiots.

    February 25, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  4. quimby

    For a country so opposed to communism and Russia, we sure seem to have a lot oc Czars????

    February 25, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |

    Nobody is criticizing the intentions of sen Byrd. He has a good point and should be listen to by OBAMA but his age and term served is Seriously shocking. 91 years and 50 years in the senate that is too much. If in every company in america people were allowed to work until they die can you imagine how many graduate students will be on the street? Be realistic people.

    February 25, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. It's Simple ...

    I trust Obama (the President) more than I trust Byrd (not necessarily him but any member of Congress).

    And while this might be a lucid suggestion, at age 91, are we really getting our money's worth out of Mr. Byrd?

    Did this really come out of his head or is he a figurehead for a staffer that is pulling the levers behind the curtain of power?

    February 25, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  7. quimby

    For a country so opposed to communism and Russia we sure seem to have a lot of Czars!

    February 25, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  8. Paul M. Turner

    Where was Senator Byrd's voice during the past administration?

    February 25, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. NY republican

    To Sue and I voted for change!!!!! – If the "elder Senators" resigned we would lose that beloved old sot Sen. Kennedy. That would be tragic !
    By the way who gets to define "elder". Have either of you seen the movie Soilent Green?

    February 25, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Charise

    I see it this way, no matter what President Obama does, someone is always going to dislike it. If he came in and did nothing people would say, OMG, he is just letting us go down the drain. If he picked whomever Senator Byrd is suggesting, someone else would have a problem with it. He can't make everyone happy all of the time. My goodness! Give him a chance. Let's just say that everything starts to work out in his favor or a majority of things start to work out in his favor, what is going to be said then...it's good but...I see it this way, he is letting us see & telling us more than George Bush ever did & look at the mess he left. I think people just want him to fail and it is so sad because right now we ahould all be rallying behind him & not giving up on this country.

    February 25, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. A Solow

    The dude may be old, but he's right.

    February 25, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  12. leapfrog

    Byrd is grousing because the czars will have control over making decisions, effectively cutting Byrd and other Congressional earmarkers from extorting campaign contributions from the industries being regulated.

    February 25, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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