An eye for an eye?
President Trump on Thursday responded to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) call to delay the State of the Union address with a postponement of his own.
“Due to the shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the shutdown is over,” Trump wrote in a letter to Pelosi.
A day earlier, Pelosi wrote to Trump to request he delay his State of the Union address, set for Jan. 29, due to the ongoing government shutdown.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th,” Pelosi wrote in her letter.
Later Wednesday, Pelosi said Trump could simply deliver the speech from the Oval Office.
Until Thursday afternoon, the White House had been silent. In his letter, Trump added: “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.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called Trump’s move “petty and ridiculous,” adding that it “demeans the presidency.”
The congressional delegation’s planned destinations had not been public before the press secretary published the President’s letter; so-called “codels” — especially to war zones, and especially those that include senior congressional leadership like the House speaker — are often kept secret due to security concerns.
NBC News reported that Pelosi was scheduled to get on a plane at 3 p.m. ET, and Fox News broadcast images of an Air Force bus reportedly with members of Congress aboard.
Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill explained the trip in a series of tweets:
The President traveled to Iraq during the Trump Shutdown as did a Republican CODEL led by Rep. Zeldin. (4/4)
— Drew Hammill (@Drew_Hammill) January 17, 2019
The President added that Pelosi is welcome to downgrade her travel arrangements. “Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.”
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) January 17, 2019