When it comes to the border, Trump has been treating the troops as his own personal army. With Democrats in the House, that has to change.
Trump is sending several thousand more troops to the border for no real reason. Department of Defense (DOD) officials couldn't even be bothered to tell the House how many troops they would be sending.
Now that the Democrats control the House, Trump and his DOD aren't going to be able to be as cavalier or close-mouthed as they were under the single-party Republican rule of the past two years.
Of course, Trump announced this troop deployment via tweet, saying that the additional troops were necessary to stop the "Invasion of Illegals, through large Caravans." In the same tweet, he inevitably lamented the lack of a wall, saying it would be easier and less expensive to build the wall.
It's beginning to look like Trump may just keep sending troops to the border for non-urgent and non-military tasks, only because he sees it as leverage to get his wall.
The additional 3,500 troops are being sent to the border to help string concertina wire. That's on top of the 2,300 troops that have been there since before the election. The request came from DHS and was made during the shutdown.
But the administration seems to have gotten a bit rusty about having to explain to Congress what it is going to do and why. On Tuesday, there was a House Armed Services Committee meeting. At that meeting, the Pentagon wouldn't tell the committee the size of the deployment. This was even though the committee asked them several times to explain what would happen next at the border.
In a letter to Patrick Shanahan, the acting secretary of defense, Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith noted that this omission was "at best an error in judgment, and at worst flat-out dishonesty."
All along, Trump has treated troops with shocking disrespect. He took them away from their families at the holidays to perform the vital function of shoveling horse poop. Then their deployments were significantly extended. They were supposed to come home December 15, but now they're stuck at the border until September 30.
Now he is moving thousands of troops around on a whim, and his defense officials don't feel obliged to answer questions about troop deployments — even when those questions come from the House Armed Services Committee.
This administration already appears to be chafing from the most minor of oversight actions. They're in for a long two years.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.