Congress handing its duties over to the executive branch

How jarring to read that Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England will be allowed by Congress to select which military service will become the executive agency for medium- and high-altitude drones (article, “DoD’s England will soon settle Pentagon turf battle on drones,” Sept. 13). Has anyone in Congress read the Constitution recently?

Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution outlines the law, point by point: Congress has the authority to “provide for the common defense,” “declare war,” “raise and support armies,” “provide and maintain a Navy,” “make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces” and so forth.

It is illogical for the Founding Fathers to give these express powers to Congress and then want the executive branch to decide what equipment our armed forces will use. For example, it was unconstitutional and irresponsible for Congress to allow then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to cancel the Crusader artillery piece — and the same logic applies to the decision on drones.

Why would Congress now allow Deputy Secretary England to make an important decision that should be made by Congress? Why should Congress give its constitutional power to the executive branch? Is it lack of knowledge or lack of courage?

You wrote: “While Congress has mostly left the decision to the Pentagon, members on both sides have been writing letters to England in anticipation of his decision.”

This means the deputy secretary of Defense supersedes the authority of Congress.

Manhasset, N.Y.

Dodd: I have consistently tackled mortgage issues
From Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.)

In his Sept. 26 article “Contributors, hope for ’08, pull at Dodd” Alex Bolton is wildly inaccurate in his assessment of my record regarding subprime lending crisis. I would like to set the record straight.

For over a decade I have fought predatory lending and consistently supported tough, responsible legislation to protect American homeowners, and have recently announced a comprehensive bill to help put an end to abusive lending practices in the mortgage market. As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, I have conducted multiple hearings that have documented these practices and highlighted the failures of the Federal Reserve and other federal regulators to protect homeowners from the kinds of predatory lending which have contributed to the record number of foreclosures that we are currently witnessing. I led a successful fight to make the Federal Reserve meet its obligations under the Homeownership and Equity Protection Act to write a regulation to protect borrowers from unfair, deceptive and misleading actions by mortgage industry participants against homebuyers.

Additionally, I led the successful effort to pressure these same regulators to apply common-sense lending standards and protections for homebuyers and owners to those in the subprime market. These standards include basing loans on the borrower’s ability to pay the loan, not on speculation about a home’s future value; requiring brokers, lenders and servicers to escrow for taxes and insurance; and restricting the use of low- and no-documentation loans. Earlier this year, I brought together lenders, servicers, and representatives from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the Homeownership Preservation Summit, where the leaders in the industry committed to adopt a set of principles I developed. These principles obligate lenders, servicers and securitizers to take affirmative steps to restructure mortgage loans in order to prevent foreclosures.

Needless to say, these are just a few of the recent actions I have taken, which provide a stark contrast to the narrative Mr. Bolton provided. I have fought to protect American homeowners using every tool at my disposal and will continue to do so. It is regrettable that the article failed to correctly reflect my record.