This was a vote on am amendment offered by Rep. Broun (R-GA) to H.R. 3081, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Council on Environmental Quality, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Small Business Administration and many other federal government operations. The amendment would have prohibited any funds in the bill from going to the Assistant to the President on Energy and Climate Change, the so-called “climate czar”, the Deputy Assistant to the President on Energy and Climate Change, the so-called “deputy climate czar”, or any position in the Council on Environmental Quality. Rep Broun said he offered this amendment as a way to stop an executive branch practice of avoiding Senate confirmation requirements and congressional oversight by appointing officials such as the ones for whom his amendment would prohibit funding. Broun acknowledged both Democratic and Republican administrations have engaged in this practice.
In his statement in support of the amendment, Broun said he did not have a problem with any administration “seeking advice from outside experts on the important issues of the day.” Broun argued that the Council on Environmental Quality operates under a “veil of secrecy (which) . . . should be unacceptable to every Member of this House. It's no small secret that the council's actions are overtly political and lacking a proper legislative check, and it didn't just happen overnight. The previous administration's Council on Environmental Quality had its fair share of problems as well. Congress has the authority and responsibility to oversee the administration, and we're not doing our job, frankly, and it's about time for us to do our job. “
Broun also argued that the Assistant to the President on Energy and Climate Change appointed by President Obama “doesn't look at (the) scientific facts that there are thousands of scientists that say that there is minimal, if any, human effect on global temperatures.” He added that this administration has given (her) tremendous amounts of power outside the purview of what they should have under the Constitution . . . We have an administration that has loaded up this council with people who are carrying out a political process, and it's been politicized, and it should be totally unacceptable.”
Rep. Dicks (D-WA), who chairs the Interior and Environmental Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, opposed the amendment. He suggested that the real purpose of Rep. Broun was to “defund the Council on Environmental Quality”, which Dicks noted was created by a Republican president (Nixon). Dicks described the amendment as representing “a misguided view on the subject of climate change and global warming”, and argued that: “(A)s the United States finally faces up to its responsibility to adapt to climate change, (Rep, Broun) wants to hobble our efforts for some illogical reason.” Dicks also opposed preventing the funding of the positions of Assistant, and Deputy Assistant, on Energy and Climate Change, and said “(W)e need all of the expertise that we can muster as we figure out how to adapt and mitigate climate change.”
Rep. Serrano (D-NY), who chaired the subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee that developed H.R. 3170, also opposed the amendment. He said: “(I)t's amazing that we hear about oversight now . . . (since) the other side never claimed oversight when the (Bush) White House was having meetings determining what our energy policy should be between the White House and lobbyists and no Members of Congress were present . . . .”
The vote was defeated by a vote of 149-282. One hundred and forty-eight Republicans and one Democrat voted “aye”. Two hundred and fifty-five Democrats and twenty-seven Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, no prohibition on funds for the Assistant or Deputy Assistant to the President on Energy and Climate Change, or for the Council on Environmental Quality, was added to H.R. 3170.