EDITORIAL: Perry should have joined House colleagues in protecting NATO from Trump
For seven decades, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has served as a bulwark in the defense of world-wide freedom.
It has helped to keep its members secure in the face of international dangers of all manner.
That doesn’t seem to matter to American President Donald Trump, who has consistently threatened to leave the now 29-member organization, calling it “obsolete.”
It also doesn’t seem to matter to Rep. Scott Perry, the Dillsburg-area Republican who recently was one of just 22 members in the U.S House of Representatives to vote against a bill that would prevent Trump from leaving NATO.
If passed, the bill would reiterate the country's support of the alliance and prohibit the use of federal funds to withdraw from the organization. Unfortunately, the bill’s future in the Mitch McConnell-controlled Senate seems dubious, at best.
Still, a large majority of Perry’s Republican colleagues supported the bill, which passed the House, 357-22 on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Perry, however, couldn’t bring himself to fall out of lockstep with the president. Of course, that is nothing new. Perry has voted with the president around 86 percent of the time, according to the FiveThirtyEight website.
This time, however, Perry should have shown some much-needed independence and voted to protect NATO from a president who has, unfortunately, consistently displayed extremely questionable judgment and a determination to go it alone on the world stage.
After all, serving as a check on presidential power is one of Congress’ fundamental duties. It must not, and cannot, serve as a simple rubber stamp.
Perry offers his reasons for his vote: Perry, for his part, says he remains a staunch supporter of NATO, but says he could not vote for the bill for three main reasons.
First, he believes the country's safety would be at risk because the measure lacks a clause allowing the president to respond to national or international emergencies.
Second, he said the bill would prevent the U.S. from ever leaving the alliance unless Congress voted to repeal the would-be law, even though other nations would be able to.
Finally — and most importantly, Perry said — he thinks the measure is "unconstitutional" because the executive branch is responsible for international relations and treaties, and this bill would "attempt to supersede the Constitution and case law."
We will give Perry the benefit of the doubt and accept that his reasons for opposing the bill are based on principle, not politics. We just believe that his principles, in this case, are misguided.
The Russian danger: Given the clear and present danger that exists in the form of Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin, a strong and unified NATO is an absolute necessity. We simply can’t afford a scenario where one reckless president can destroy that critical alliance. Especially when that president has constantly failed to confront Putin for any of his many misdeeds.
We believe that it’s the constitutional duty of our Congress to protect us from such a president. We believe that is Perry’s duty.
That's because leaving NATO would be a foreign-policy disaster.
Other NATO members step up: For their part, the other NATO members have recently shown their support for the alliance by committing to increase their financial contributions. That came in answer to Trump’s criticism that they weren’t paying their fair share of defense funds.
Not surprisingly, Trump accepted complete credit for that increase, even though the other NATO members had previously increased their spending under Trump’s predecessors.
No matter the reason, the other NATO members have stepped up to the plate in support of the alliance.
The vast majority of the House of Representatives, Republicans included, voted their conscience to protect the vital organization against the whims of an unpredictable president.
We just wish Mr. Perry would’ve joined his House colleagues in an act of Congressional solidarity.