Trump grounds Pelosi, Davos delegation
by Harvest Prude
Posted 1/18/19, 11:04 am
WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump on Thursday abruptly canceled military aircraft usage for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other congressional lawmakers who planned to depart that day for a weeklong trip to visit U.S. troops abroad. “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,” the president wrote in a letter to Pelosi announcing the change of plans. He added that the speaker should consider staying in the nation’s capital to continue negotiations on a federal budget agreement to end the partial government shutdown, which has now gone on for four weeks, but noted she could still fly commercially if she wanted.
The news took the lawmakers, who were already boarding a bus that would take them to their departure point, by surprise. The delegation planned to travel on Pentagon-supplied aircraft to Belgium, Egypt, and Afghanistan. For security reasons, such trips are not announced in advance. On Wednesday, Pelosi suggested that Trump postpone his State of the Union address, scheduled for Jan. 29, until the partial government shutdown ends, which may have prompted the president to retaliate by canceling the trip.
Pelosi said Friday she still wanted to make the trip using commercial flights but the public disclosure of her plans made the security risks too great.
The political power plays drew criticism from some lawmakers. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas., said Trump canceling Pelosi’s flight “certainly doesn’t elevate the debate.” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tweeted that “one sophomoric response does not deserve another.” He called Pelosi’s move “blatantly political” but added he thought Trump’s “inappropriate.”
The president also announced Thursday that he pulled the U.S. delegation out of the upcoming World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, because of the shutdown. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department called on diplomats to return to work on Sunday or Monday, saying it had found money to pay their salaries for the next pay period. “While the department has done its best to address matters essential to achieving U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives during the ongoing lapse, it has become clear as the lapse has continued to historic lengths that we need our full team to address the myriad critical issues requiring U.S. leadership around the globe and to fulfill our commitments to the American people,” the department said in a notice.
Editor’s note: We updated this article to include Pelosi’s statement as to why she is not traveling to visit U.S. troops on a commercial flight.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.