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The United States of Anarchy

Dana Milbank on

WASHINGTON -- Welcome to the United States of Anarchy.

Health care legislation languishes without presidential leadership. The Senate fails to pass a measure crafted by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, fails to pass an outright repeal and even fails to pass a proposal to go back to the drawing board.

Huge majorities in Congress, declining to bless President Trump's love affair with Vladimir Putin's regime, vote for new sanctions against Russian officials; legislation passes the Senate, 98 to 2, and the House, 419 to 3. The veto-proof rebuke to the president seizes a foreign policy function from an unreliable commander in chief.

As the deadline looms to avoid a default on U.S. debt, Susan Collins of Maine, a Senate committee chairman, is heard on a hot mic saying she's "worried" about the president's stability and calling his administration's handling of spending matters "just incredibly irresponsible." She says she doubts Trump even knows how the budget process works.

Trump, baffling and alarming allies, goes on the attack against his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who was an outspoken supporter of Trump's candidacy. Trump clearly wants Sessions to resign, but Sessions is ignoring him. Sessions' former colleagues in the Senate back him over his boss -- and they hope Trump isn't crazy enough to start a crisis by firing Sessions and then special counsel Robert Mueller.

Meanwhile, the president continues to sow chaos with perpetual distractions. He fires off a tweet Wednesday announcing he is banning transgender people from serving in the military. The tweet apparently catches even the Pentagon by surprise and draws rebukes from pro-military Republicans who argue that all able-bodied, patriotic Americans should be allowed to serve.

And the ship of state sails on, rudderless. This is what it might look like if there were no president at all: Stuff happens, but nothing gets done. Actually, the majority in Congress has great difficulty even doing nothing.

McConnell and his team scheduled a vote on repealing Obamacare for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday -- a proposal that was, by all accounts, destined for failure. But when the appointed hour came, Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., sponsor of the repeal measure, requested a quorum call -- a Senate procedure to stall for time.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., rose. "Mr. President, I think there was some confusion -- " he began.

But Enzi objected, Wyden was forbidden to speak, and the quorum call resumed -- for 43 silent minutes.

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