Chaos, confusion, and infighting are rampant as lawmakers in Washington D.C. scramble to pass a bill to fund the federal government beyond the end of the week, and President Donald Trump is not making their jobs easier.
After indicating that he would agree to a deal passed by the Senate that did not include his previously demanded $5 billion of border wall funding, the president changed his mind at the last minute and said he'd veto the legislation. If no deal is passed, the government will likely shutdown This prompted House Republicans to introduce a bill that would include funding for the wall, even though they knew it would never garner the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.
And then, in the midst of this high-stakes standoff, Trump announced that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — long seen as the most important Cabinet member and a stabilizing force on the president — will be leaving the administration over ideological differences. Mattis wrote a blunt resignation letter that not-so-subtly slammed Trump on his support for authoritarians and his abandonment of allies.
"The departure of the last 'adult in the room' at a time when Trump is increasingly isolated, irrational and erratic will rightly frighten lawmakers and allies," observed conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin.
She continued: "Mattis’s departure serves to underscore the utter lack of responsibility among Republicans who cheered on Trump with the pretense that others would restrain him. There is only one president, and ours is utterly unfit to serve."
To actually hold Trump accountable, Rubin advises that Congress should, in a bipartisan way, have Mattis and other former national security officials testify openly about the threats Trump poses. Lawmakers should also deny Trump the ability to wage war without their express approval.
"Finally," she wrote, "it is time for Senate Republicans to seriously consider removing Trump in the event the House moves to impeach."
"We are in uncharted territory, made more precarious by Republicans’ cowardice," Rubin concluded. "If nothing else, perhaps Mattis’s departure will shock them into action."