Trump cancels Nancy Pelosi foreign trip citing shutdown | 2019-01-18

Trump cancels Nancy Pelosi foreign trip citing shutdown


18th January, 2019 02:47:02 printer

Trump cancels Nancy Pelosi foreign trip citing shutdown

US President Donald Trump has postponed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's upcoming trip to Brussels, Afghanistan and Egypt, citing the government shutdown.


"I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate," Trump said in a letter.


Pelosi urged Trump on Wednesday to postpone his State of the Union address, given the political deadlock.


Trump's move came on the 27th day of a partial US government shutdown.


The Republican president wants $5.7bn (£4.4bn) of congressional funding to build a wall on the US-Mexico border, but Democrats have refused.


Trump's cancellation of the trip emerged less than an hour before the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives was scheduled to leave on Thursday afternoon, US media say.


White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders shared the letter in a tweet.


"I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown," Trump wrote.


"Obviously if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.


"I look forward to seeing you soon and even more forward to watching our open and dangerous Southern Border finally receiving the attention, funding, and security it so desperately deserves!"


A White House official told US media the president was able to halt the foreign trip by Pelosi and a congressional delegation because they were set to use military aircraft.


Pelosi's travel had not been announced before Trump's letter.


Some commentators expressed dismay that the president would reveal plans about a trip to a war zone by a congresswoman who is second in line to the presidency.


The zero-sum battle drags on

The shutdown chess match between Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi has turned into a game of checkers.


The House speaker threatens to take away his State of the Union Address? The president erases her congressional trip to Belgium, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.


Jump-jump-jump. Your move.


The White House had reportedly been caught flat-footed by Ms Pelosi's State of the Union announcement on Wednesday and was searching for ways to circumvent the speaker's threatened roadblock.


There's still no obvious solution for them, but that hasn't kept the president from firing back.


How the American public perceives this tit-for-tat is an open question.


At least so far, the president appears to be shouldering the lion's share of the blame for the government shutdown.


At some point, however, the governmental dysfunction could drag everyone down.


Meanwhile, 800,000 federal employees continue to work - or sit at home - without pay.


Government websites crash, services grind to a halt and the economic toll begins to mount.


This has become a zero-sum battle where the costs of continuing to fight are matched only by the political price to be paid if a side backs down.


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Trump's "petty" action "demeans the presidency".


Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said: "One sophomoric response does not deserve another."


He called Pelosi's threat to cancel the state of the union address "irresponsible", and Trump's response "also inappropriate".


A White House aide told US media that the trip "would have guaranteed" that federal workers would miss their second paycheque "because she would not have been here to negotiate any kind of deal".


However, Trump has not banned Pelosi from going - just from using military aircraft.


Fox News also reports that members of Congress who were due to join the trip have been left sitting on a US Air Force bus at Capitol Hill as staff at the Capitol, State, Pentagon and White House scramble to handle the situation.


The California representative's office has not yet responded to the president's letter.


In her own letter to Trump on Wednesday, Pelosi called on him to reschedule his annual address to Congress since "the extraordinary demands presented" by the event could not be met during the shutdown.


Trump has not yet directly responded to the request to move his speech.


Earlier on Thursday, Ms Pelosi told reporters that the Democrats did not want security officers working unpaid.


"Maybe he thinks it's okay not to pay people who work," Ms Pelosi said. "I don't."


Democrats in the House passed another bill to re-open parts of the government, but like past attempts, it is expected to fail in the Republican-led Senate.


The new stopgap bill proposes to re-open the government through 28 February.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to take up any legislation that does not have the president's approval, and has accused Democrats of wasting time.