- President Donald Trump said in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday that he was postponing her scheduled government trip to Belgium and Afghanistan, citing the ongoing partial government shutdown.
- “I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Trump said in the letter.
- Pelosi on Wednesday sent a letter to Trump calling on him to postpone his upcoming State of the Union address, citing security concerns linked to the shutdown.
President Donald Trump on Thursday sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informing her that he was postponing her scheduled government trip to Belgium and Afghanistan because of the partial government shutdown.
“Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed,” the letter said. “We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over. In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”
Trump said he thought it would be better if Pelosi stayed in Washington to negotiate an end to the shutdown with him and join “the Strong Border Security movement.” He added that Pelosi could fly commercial if she wished to move forward with the trip. Members of Congress typically fly on military planes for official foreign travel.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) January 17, 2019
The House speaker’s office issued a statement rebuking the president over the letter.
“The Congressional Delegation to Afghanistan included a required stop in Brussels for pilot rest. In Brussels, the delegation was scheduled to meet with top NATO commanders, U.S. military leaders and key allies – to affirm the United States’ ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance,” said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Pelosi. “This weekend visit to Afghanistan did not include a stop in Egypt.”
Hammill added: “The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation and thanks to our men and women in uniform for their service and dedication, and to obtain critical national security and intelligence briefings from those on the front lines. The President travelled to Iraq during the Trump Shutdown as did a Republican CODEL led by Rep. Zeldin.”
On Wednesday, Pelosi sent a letter to the president calling on him to postpone his State of the Union address, scheduled for January 29, until after the government is reopened. She also suggested he submit the address in writing as an alternative.
Pelosi cited security concerns and the fact that the US Secret Service is working without pay because of the shutdown.
Subsequently, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said her agency and the US Secret Service were prepared to provide security for the State of the Union.
The ongoing government shutdown, the longest in US history, is a product of the president’s demand for $US5.7 billion in funding for a wall he wants to build along the US-Mexico border. Democrats, who think the wall is unnecessary and would not adequately address the US’s immigration issues, have refused to grant Trump the money.
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