The state of government shutdown negotiations is now just two adults treating each other like children. What shiny toy can they take away next as punishment?
A day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that President Trump delay delivering the State of the Union address in front of Congress due to security concerns while the government is shut down, he seemed to retaliate.
Just hours before Pelosi and other members of Congress were to board a military jet to visit troops in Afghanistan, Trump told her she couldn’t go.
He was punishing her for punishing him. And we wonder why the government is still partially closed.
In a letter to the president, Pelosi (D-Calif.) cited the scarcity of security resources as a reason to postpone the State of the Union. In his response, the president urged Pelosi to stick around to negotiate … even though those conversations are barely happening.
Trump might have hoped to embarrass Pelosi & Co. by highlighting her travel during the shutdown. A perk of congressional fact-finding travel is the free ride (along with luxe accommodations, five-star meals, etc.). Such “codels” used to get a bad rap because lawmakers would bring their spouses to go “fact find” in places such as Paris and Thailand, all on the government’s dime.
But it’s hard to argue against the benefits of members of Congress going to visit troops abroad. (The trip did include a stop in Brussels for “pilot’s rest,” but the city also happens to be where NATO is headquartered, so it seems not just an excuse to go to the lovely Western European city.)
Even Trump’s pal Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) called out Trump for canceling Pelosi’s trip.
“One sophomoric response does not deserve another,” Graham said in a statement. “Speaker Pelosi’s threat to cancel the State of the Union is very irresponsible and blatantly political. President Trump denying Speaker Pelosi military travel to visit our troops in Afghanistan, our allies in Egypt and NATO is also inappropriate.”
Without trying to, Graham highlights a key distinction in the two strategies. Pelosi’s letter was a strongly worded request (Graham calls it a “threat”), whereas Trump outright denied Pelosi’s travel. Pelosi put the onus on him to do the right thing, but Trump made the decision for her.
“I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate,” Trump wrote in his letter. Never mind that Trump visited troops in Iraq just days into the shutdown (and has never visited troops in Afghanistan since taking office.)
So here we are, 27 days into this shutdown, with 800,000 people losing wages and many, many more missing services they rely on.
And the president of the United States is in the Oval Office figuring out how he can get back at Pelosi.