Ron Klain was introduced last week as the White House’s policy coordinator for the federal response to the Ebola virus – he’s the so-called “czar” Republicans have been clamoring for – and he met in the Oval Office yesterday with President Obama and top aides. It was the first of many, many discussions Klain will have in his oversight role.
Congressional Republicans are already complaining in unintentionally amusing ways.
The White House’s Ebola czar is “off to a bad start” after declining an invitation to testify before the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Wednesday.“He’s on the job as of today – why not come talk to the American people in the Congress, answer questions from both Republicans and Democrats on Friday?” Chaffetz said during an interview with Fox News. “I don’t know. We’re off to a bad start.”
Chaffetz probably didn’t intend for this to be funny, but it’s hard not to laugh. Klain meets with the president on Wednesday; he has his first full day on the job on Thursday; and according to the Utah Republican, Klain should stop working on Friday.
Why? So he can come to Congress and hear questions he couldn’t possibly be prepared to answer after a day and a half on the job.
Chaffetz added that lawmakers “have questions as to whether or not he should be in that spot.” That sounds like it would set the stage for a fascinating exchange, doesn’t it? “Mr. Klain, I don’t think you’re the best person for this job.” “Well, congressman, it’s not up to you. Can I go back to actually working now?”
In the same Fox interview yesterday, Chaffetz added this gem.
Utah GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz on Wednesday questioned President Obama’s decision to appoint what he considers a political operative to lead the country’s Ebola response, instead of the acting-United States surgeon general.“I want a doctor telling me how to deal with this,” Chaffetz said on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
Well, first, appointing a scientist to navigate the federal bureaucracy and manage disparate government agencies seems like a bad idea.
Second, there are plenty of doctors telling lawmakers how to deal with this. As a rule, most of Congress is ignoring what the doctors are saying.
And third, if Chaffetz wants a surgeon general, he might want to chat with Senate Republicans and the NRA.