GOP Leaders Launch Investigation Into John Podesta's Appointment as Climate Czar

John Podesta (Getty Images)
March 6, 2024

Top Republican leaders in Congress this week launched an investigation into President Joe Biden’s appointment of Democratic strategist John Podesta as his lead climate diplomat, accusing Biden of disregarding the Constitution and federal law. 

The president’s appointment "appears to be a blatant attempt to sidestep congressional oversight and install Mr. Podesta in a position that under federal law requires the advice and consent of the United States Senate," House Energy and Commerce Committee chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.) and Senate Environment and Public Works Committee ranking member Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.) said in a Tuesday letter to Biden.

"We are alarmed at your apparent decision to circumvent the law. This appointment is another example of your administration’s practice of creating new offices that do not require Senate confirmation or that do not have explicit statutory missions and constraints," the Republican lawmakers added, while condemning Biden’s "flagrant disregard for the separation of powers and congressional authority under both the Constitution and federal law."

McMorris Rodgers and Capito demanded Biden reply by March 19 to the letter, which includes a series of questions regarding Podesta’s new role, such as what his exact duties will be and how the role will differ from his predecessor's.

Podesta, a senior adviser to Biden for clean energy innovation and implementation, will succeed former secretary of state John Kerry, who became Biden’s special climate envoy in 2021 also without seeking Senate confirmation. Kerry is being investigated by the GOP-led House Oversight Committee over his "collusion with leftist environmental groups" and meetings with groups linked to the Chinese Communist Party. 

The White House announced on Jan. 31 that Podesta would become Biden’s new climate czar, even though after Kerry’s appointment the president approved a law requiring special envoy and similar roles to be confirmed by the Senate.

"The mere fact that Mr. Podesta will receive a different title and will be based in the White House, rather than the Department of State like his predecessor, does not obviate this statutory obligation," the lawmakers wrote in the Tuesday letter, adding that "any objective observer would reasonably suspect that [Biden] crafted Mr. Podesta’s ‘new’ position to circumvent a recently enacted law so as to duck accountability to Congress and impede or subvert oversight efforts."