Will GOP Congress Force Trump To Stop Huffing And Puffing?

&l;p&g;&l;img class=&q;dam-image getty size-large wp-image-939739146&q; src=&q;https://specials-images.forbesimg.com/dam/imageserve/939739146/960×0.jpg?fit=scale&q; data-height=&q;630&q; data-width=&q;960&q;&g; MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The headline above might make you think this is about Donald Trump&s;s level of cardio fitness. It&s;s not. It&s;s about his budget bluster and attempts at fiscal despotism.

In recent weeks, Trump has shown an increasingly willful disregard of the laws and norms that govern almost everything the federal government does on taxing and spending.

First, he&a;nbsp;&l;a href=&q;https://www.forbes.com/sites/stancollender/2018/03/11/gop-congress-is-complicit-in-state-department-not-spending-russian-investigation-dollars/#8271a4718aaf&q;&g;refused the spend the funds&l;/a&g;&a;nbsp;Congress had previously appropriated for the State Department to investigate Russian interference in U.S. elections.

Next came&a;nbsp;Trump&s;s vociferous complaining (whining, really) about having to sign the 2018 omnibus appropriation because it didn&s;t include what he requested for the wall he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico and had domestic spending he didn&s;t like. (The fact that Trump previously signed the legislation that allowed the additional domestic spending and, therefore, actually bears a great deal of responsibility for it doesn&s;t seem to have registered with him at all.)

As you can see below, as part of his rant against the omnibus, Trump also insisted that the Senate abandon its longstanding tradition of allowing senators to filibuster legislation and that he be given a line-item veto.

Then there was Trump&s;s fiscal coup de grace: &l;a href=&q;https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-privately-presses-for-military-to-pay-for-border-wall/2018/03/27/d79907a2-31c9-11e8-9759-56e51591e250_story.html?utm_term=.b94eb883691c&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;his saying&l;/a&g; that the Pentagon should use funds appropriated to it for other purposes to pay for the wall. Although the Pentagon portion of the omnibus said nothing about the wall, while signing the bill Trump had celebrated the big increase for defense and no matter that the reprogramming would violate long-established (as in decades) limits, the president demanded that Defense Department funds be used for a nonmilitary purposes.

&l;/p&g;&l;blockquote class=&q;twitter-tweet&q;&g;

&l;p dir=&q;ltr&q; lang=&q;en&q;&g;Because of the $700 &a;amp; $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!&l;/p&g;

&a;mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) &l;a href=&q;https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/977855968364171264?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;March 25, 2018&l;/a&g;&l;/blockquote&g;

All of these Trump demands, ploys and ultimatums have two big things in common.

First, they show that Trump is either shamefully ignorant of how the Constitution and federal law requires the government operate, or he doesn&s;t think those requirements and restrictions apply to him. The fact that, on becoming president, he swore an oath to &q;&l;span&g;preserve, protect and defend&q;&l;/span&g;&a;nbsp;the Constitution seems to be of no concern.

Second, and more importantly, Congress has the ability to stop all of Trump&s;s efforts to ignore or get around the constitutional and statutory requirements he seems so eager to evade.

&l;!–nextpage–&g;In fact, the Senate has already done that once. Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) so far has resisted Trump&s;s often-repeated demands that he do away with the filibuster for appropriations and tax legislation.

But refusing to do something is relatively easy. The steps Congress will need to take to stop Trump&s;s other efforts will be much much harder.

For example, as I explained in &l;a href=&q;https://www.forbes.com/sites/stancollender/2018/03/11/gop-congress-is-complicit-in-state-department-not-spending-russian-investigation-dollars/#217949c718aa&q;&g;this post&l;/a&g;, what Trump is doing by not spending the State Department funds is an &q;impoundment&q; and, in accordance with the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act, Congress is supposed to approve all such requests. If the White House didn&s;t notify the House and Senate it wasn&s;t planning to or was unable to spend the appropriation, Congress should have demanded that Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney answer for the administration&s;s refusal to obey the law.

So far, at least, Congress has shown no indication that it will do that.

The same is true of Trump&s;s pronouncement about using the military budget to pay for his wall. The House and Senate Appropriation Committees should be demanding that Mulvaney and Secretary of Defense James Mattis testify about what legal authority gives Trump the ability to do this and which defense programs will be cut to pay for it. The committees could really get their point across by adopt a joint resolution directing the Pentagon not to divert its funds.

Again, Congress so far has given no indication that it&s;s going to do that. The Republican-controlled House and Senate majorities have shown little-to-no inclination to take on Trump directly and these would be the most direct challenges to him coming from his own party.

Therefore, if Trump follows through and does any of these things, the GOP congressional leadership and the Republican rank and file in both houses will bear much of the blame for allowing it to happen.

And Trump will keep huffing and puffing.