Senate kills measure to defund policy 'czars'

The Senate voted 47-51 on Thursday to kill an amendment offered by Sen. David VitterDavid VitterFormer GOP rep joins K Street lobbying firm Capitol Counsel Lobbying World Mercury brings on former Sen. Vitter, two others MORE (R-La.) that would have ended the ability of the White House to appoint policy "czars,” and prohibited the use of federal funds for the salaries and expenses of czars already appointed.

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The measure needed 60 votes to pass.

Before the vote, Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerA Justice Gorsuch will defend religious Americans from persecution Dem to Trump: 'You truly are an evil man' Dem senator: GOP controls all of gov't, so success or failure is on them MORE (D-N.Y.), the Senate’s third-ranking Democrat, decried the amendment from the floor as an attempt to weaken the Democratic presidency and as a “poison pill” for the underlying legislation.

"It is a poison pill designed to handcuff the president's ability to assemble a team of top-flight advisers and aides," Schumer said. 

Vitter was attempting to attach the amendment to a bill that would streamline the presidential appointment process.

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Vitter, who offered the amendment along with Republican Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulTrump, GOP fumble chance to govern GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Rand Paul takes victory lap on GOP health bill MORE (Ky.), Dean HellerDean HellerRed-state Dems in Supreme Court pressure cooker This week: House GOP faces make-or-break moment on ObamaCare Shutdown politics return to the Senate MORE (Nev.) and Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Friends, foes spar in fight on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Live coverage: Day three of Supreme Court nominee hearing MORE (Iowa), argued that the czars appointed by Obama possess too much power and ought to be under the jurisdiction of the Senate. 

“These czars are provided with a considerable amount of power and influence, putting them on the same level as cabinet members who are thoroughly vetted and approved by the U.S. Senate, but without the public scrutiny,” said Vitter in a press release.  “I’m very concerned about that undefined authority of what are essentially political advisory positions, especially when the decisions they make can have a profound effect on our lives.”