The Return of Anti-Czar Legislation

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 7 2011 4:47 PM

The Return of Anti-Czar Legislation

It's back! The legislation meant to ban and defund non-Senate-approved presidential advisors has been reintroduced with the bill number H.R. 59: "To define advisors often characterized as Czars and to provide that appropriated funds may not be used to pay for any salaries and expenses associated with such advisors."

The original C.Z.A.R. Act of 2009 , introduced by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), collected 124 sponsors and went nowhere. We don't have the new bill's text, but it was unclear whether the last legislation would successful end Czardom, or merely prevent special advisors from getting paid . Jennifer Rubin explains :

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I talked to some smart conservative constitutional gurus. Although there are few definitive answers in this area, it is important to keep some parameters in mind. In the most general terms, the Constitution requires Senate confirmation of non-inferior "Officers." If a czar is an "Officer" rather than mere adviser, the czar-elimination bill should pass constitutional muster. The problem with the bill then is one of clarity -- which of the czars would "otherwise require Senate confirmation" -- that is, be considered an "Officer"?

At the moment this does feel like a rote exercise -- we promised to do this in 2009, so we've done it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.