Monday, February 21, 2011

Republicans Dethrone Czars and Defund the President's Policies

House Republicans are using their powers to declare war on Democrats, public health and the environment. Despite warnings that tightening the belt too much too soon could harm the economy, the Republican-controlled House voted to drastically cut spending and defund the President's policies.

After five days of debate, the spending bill passed a divided House at 4:40 a.m. on Saturday February 19, 2011. Without any support from Democrats, the House approved several Republican amendments to deny funds to federal agencies including the EPA.

Health care was also under assault. Democratic Rep. Sander Levin said, "Instead of searching for common ground, this amendment intensifies warfare," Levin continued, "The Republicans have become a wrecking crew."

Republicans have also targeted Obama's czars as undemocratic even though many previous presidents have used them. On February 17, 2011, House Republicans voted to strip congressional funding for nine executive branch czars. This was the first raid in a much larger Republican war against the President's policies. The amendment to the continuing resolution funding government operations identifies nine czars and orders that no money goes to pay for them or their staffs.

One of amendment's top targets is US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, Obama's chief treaty negotiator at the UN global warming talks, it also defunds Obama's climate adviser. Other czars whose funding would be eliminated under the amendments include the green jobs czar, and the auto manufacturing czar. The amendment also proposes eliminating two czar slots that are unfilled including the energy and climate-change czar. Democrats called it a political attack masquerading as a principled spending cut.

Either by refusing to increase the cap on federal spending or through gridlock, the Republicans appear determined to shutdown government. Even if things do get moving again, the Republican war on the environment is far from over. Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.), chairman of the Science Committee, indicated that he plans to use tax payers dollars to hold hearings that examine, yet again, the basis of climate science.

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