Donald Trump continues to double and triple down on being as petty as possible. Following the public attempt to humiliate Nancy Pelosi by delivering a last-minute cancellation of a congressional delegation to inspect a war zone—national security be damned—Trump has now clipped the wings of everyone in Congress. As CBS reports, the Office of Management and Budget is “shutting down all congressional travel” on government planes until the shutdown is over.
Actually, that’s not completely true. Trump is grounding every congressional flight subject to “White House approval.” So it’s likely that Lindsey Graham, currently in Turkey for reasons none too clear, will not have to ride the Megabus back from Ankara.
And the ban on use of government aircraft is curiously specific.
“Under no circumstances during a government shutdown will any government owned, rented, leased, or chartered aircraft support any congressional delegation, without the express written approval of the White House chief of staff,” Acting OMB Director Russell Vought wrote in a memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies.
Since this is limited to Congress, it presumably means members of Trump’s cabinet are still able to commandeer craft at a whim. So should Steven Mnuchin get a hankering to go back to Fort Knox and fondle the gold, the taxpayer is still there for him.
This also presumably means that Melania Trump, who departed the White House Thursday night on a government plane and flew to Mar-a-Lago hours after Trump had clamped down on the congressional delegation, is free to return. No matter how much she wishes that OMB order made that impossible.
Strangely enough, the Constitution supposedly gives Congress the power to set government spending, not the executive branch. It also seems to frown on the idea of one branch of government using its powers to interfere in the duties of another. But then … the framers of the Constitution also expected the Senate to act as a check on a runaway executive, so what did those guys know?