Carl Levin

Democrats Can’t Check the White House Alone. Neither Can Republicans
An overhaul of oversight is overdue, but partisanship isn’t what the Founders had in mind

OPINION — Congress is in desperate need of a course correction. Some may think it’s about to happen, because the Democrats have now taken control of the House. But we’re referring to a different kind of course correction. For the past ten years or so, Congress has largely ignored its constitutional responsibility to serve as a check on the excesses of the executive branch and to do so in a bipartisan manner. That’s what needs to change.

We both served for many years in the Senate, and here’s what we observed: When oversight hearings were held more for political purposes than for real fact-finding purposes, they didn’t work. Hearings like these may have been the exception rather than the rule, but they damaged Congress’ reputation. They didn’t uncover the facts, and they didn’t have the confidence of the American people.

Defense Bill Deserves Priority, Support in Senate

It is past time for the Senate to take up and pass the National Defense Authorization Act. More than 70,000 active duty and National Guard troops have been sent to the Gulf Coast to assist in the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. These troops are playing a critical role in conducting search and rescue missions, evacuating displaced persons, providing security in impacted areas, delivering essential food, water and medicine and rebuilding damaged infrastructure throughout the region.

At the same time, roughly 138,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are engaged in taking on an aggressive insurgency and winning the peace in Iraq, another 17,000 remain in harm’s way in Afghanistan and tens of thousands more are supporting the war effort through deployments thousands of miles from home. Our armed forces also continue to bear the brunt of the continuing effort to keep the peace in Kosovo and the Sinai, and contain the threat of North Korea — while remaining prepared to execute other missions in support of the national military strategy.

Higher Standards May Hurt Industry

The United States needs a comprehensive energy policy that promotes conservation, reduces our dependence on foreign oil and reduces the emission of greenhouse gases that threaten our environment. The bipartisan Bond-Levin amendment adopted by the Senate requiring the Transportation Department to increase fuel efficiency will accomplish these goals in a way that will not harm the U.S. economy or put hard-working Americans out of work.

Other proposals put forth during the Senate debate on the energy bill would arbitrarily increase our fuel economy standards and perpetuate a system that has unfairly impacted American auto