Personally, I can think of nothing more important for Congress to be doing than defending the Constitution by showing that no one — not even the president — is above the law. But Congress has also shown that it can walk and chew gum at the same time.
Trump’s most urgent legislative priority is the ratification of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is only a minor modification of NAFTA. A deal with House Democrats that would accomplish this goal is now complete — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made a point of unveiling it on Tuesday right after announcing the articles of impeachment to show how much the Do Something Democrats can accomplish at once. Too bad Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is in no hurry to take it up.
Trump also complains about inaction on the defense authorization bill. Far from being “dead in the water,” though, it is now heading to a vote after a compromise in which Republicans and Democrats agreed to paid family leave for federal workers in return for creating Trump’s beloved (and utterly unnecessary) Space Force. So impeachment is not actually a bar to legislative progress.
What about Trump’s other priorities? He cites “gun safety,” but he decided this fall not to support any gun-control legislation — as he had vowed to do after the horrific Aug. 3 mass shooting in El Paso — because his political advisers told him it would prove unpopular with his base.
House Democrats are passing an ambitious plan to reduce drug costs by allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. But McConnell won’t give it a vote on the Senate floor. He won’t even bring up a competing Senate bill to limit drug price increases, because it’s unpopular with most of the Republican caucus. If Trump is truly worried about a Do Nothing Congress, he should have a chat with Mulish Mitch.
Trump has been promising and never delivering a trillion-dollar plan to fix crumbling infrastructure ever since he took office. “Infrastructure Week” has become a bad joke. The infrastructure plan is now DOA, because no one has figured out how to pay for it — something that would have been easier to do if Trump’s tax plan hadn’t ballooned the deficit to nearly $1 trillion this year. The failure to pass an infrastructure bill, like the failures on gun control and prescription drugs, has nothing to do with impeachment.
But let’s dispense with the pretense that Trump truly cares about any of these issues — or about policy in general. He’s in office because he loves the attention, not because he wants to get anything done, and he is much more comfortable brawling about impeachment than engaging in actual policy discussions.
When Trump does talk about non-impeachment matters, his mind takes some odd detours. Witness his epic rant on Friday about energy-efficient lightbulbs (“It doesn’t make you look as good. Of course, being a vain person, that’s very important to me”) and water-saving bathroom fixtures (“People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once”). Our democracy is going down the toilet and, wouldn’t you know it, the president is more concerned with the operation of actual toilets.
Trump shows zero interest in doing something about most of the actual, important issues facing the United States and the world. Nothing is more important than the climate crisis: A group of scientists just warned in the journal Nature that we are in a “state of planetary emergency” and could be on the verge of a “global tipping point.” They urge emergency action to avoid “an existential threat to civilization.”
Trump literally doesn’t understand what they are talking about. When asked about the climate crisis during the NATO summit in London, he replied by talking about “environmental impact statements” and the need for “very, very crystal clear, clean water and air.” Those are important priorities, to be sure — but, as my Post colleague Philip Bump noted, they have nothing to do with global warming, which is caused by the release of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Trump is a climate-change denier whose policies are exacerbating the global warming crisis: He is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord and is reversing regulations to decrease carbon emissions. As a result, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018.
On issue after issue — whether gun violence, immigration, the deficit, income inequality, election security, health coverage, drug prices or global warming — Trump is part of the problem, not the solution. The only way to make progress in addressing our most serious challenges is to remove him from office. So anyone who is worried about getting things done in Congress should be cheering, not jeering, impeachment.
The Post’s View: The case for impeachment