The U.S. House of Representatives showed last week that both Republican and Democratic Party majorities can unite in support of sensible policies that push back at unwise presidential decisions.
In its second major bipartisan action of the week - the first was putting new limits on government surveillance - the House rejected some major executive decisions reducing the nation's defenses at a time of rising international tension.
For example, President Barack Obama wanted to retire the Air Force's A-10, a potent tank-killer aircraft used to support Army combat forces, in line with his decision to reduce the size and scope of the Army.
But this approach, coming around the time of Russia's Ukrainian land grab, sent a signal of weakening resolve to our NATO allies as well as to Russia's pushy president, Vladimir Putin.
And President Obama again sounded like a waffler in chief Wednesday during a confusing, self-serving graduation speech at West Point (see Charles Krauthammer's column on today's Commentary page).
However, while the House's hands have been tied by draconian budget restrictions from reversing Army troop strength reductions, it found funds to keep the A-10 flying. Similarly, the House reversed administration decisions to reduce the active fleet at a time when China's aggressive moves have raised international tensions up and down the Asian coastline.
Majorities of House Republicans and Democrats, by a veto-proof margin, said the Navy should retain 11 carriers, overruling an administration plan to reduce the total carrier fleet to 10. (Given the nation's inescapable commitments, a 13-carrier force should be the aim.) It also voted to keep in the active fleet 11 cruisers that the administration wanted to idle to cut the defense budget.
The White House response has been to threaten a veto because the House, by a narrower margin, voted against closing the terrorist prison at Guantanamo and transferring some of its inmates to U.S. prisons. Most - but not all - House Democrats supported closing Guantanamo, but their subsequent support for the final bill should send a warning to the White House.
The Democratic-controlled Senate, meanwhile, advanced a defense measure that contained many of the same elements as the House bill. The Senate approach to closing Guantanamo addresses many of the serious practical issues about the incarceration of terrorists.
The different bills must be reconciled in a House-Senate conference committee. But whatever call is made on Guantanamo, the president should not stand in the way of a legislative determination to resist erosion of the nation's defenses in an increasingly dangerous world.
As Secretary of State John Kerry pointed out last week during his graduation speech at Yale, his alma mater: "Most of the rest of the world doesn't lie awake at night worrying about America's presence - they worry about what would happen in our absence."
And Congress should follow through on reducing justified worries, here and abroad, about the president's ill-advised efforts to reduce American military strength.
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