This vote was on killing an amendment by David Vitter, R-La., that would have blocked the White House’s “Climate Change Czar,” Carol Browner, from performing her job duties. After Vitter offered his amendment, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., made a motion to kill the amendment, which is what this vote was on.
Vitter said his amendment is not intended as an attack on Carol Browner, but rather a statement on the use of “czars” to oversee areas of policy, since they are not subject to confirmation by the Senate. He suggested that Browner is directing climate change policy at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) behind the scenes and thus unchecked by Congress.
“We all know this particular administration has developed an unprecedented number of these so-called czars. We have seen a dramatic increase in this phenomenon,” Vitter said. “This czar concept is obviously very general and somewhat undefined. What I am talking about are those 18 positions because none of those positions are established by statute. Congress has not authorized or established any of those positions.”
Feinstein said it is unfair to suggest that Browner is doing anything untoward and suggested that Vitter is simply trying to make political points.
“In a way, this is becoming quite political because it is not unusual for a President to have high-level staff members in the White House who help to coordinate policy issues that touch a number of Federal agencies. We have heard a lot about it. What we do not hear is that President Bush had 47 such advisers for other issues. We Democrats did not make a huge issue about it. So I have a hard time understanding, with all of the concern over climate change and the rapidity with which it is moving, that a Special Assistant to the President who was head of the EPA during the Clinton administration is somebody who is spurious. She is steeped in this. She can give the President good advice. He wants her to be an assistant. So I do not understand quite why she is being picked on,” Feinstein said.
By a vote of 57-41, the motion to kill the amendment was agreed to. All but two Democrats present voted to kill the amendment. All but one Republican present voted against killing the amendment. The end result is that the motion to kill the amendment succeeded, and an amendment that would have prohibited the White House’s “Climate Change Czar” from operating was defeated.