After a nasty tit-for-tat with President Trump over the shutdown this week, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) faces a delicate decision: whether to rescind her invitation for Trump’s State of the Union speech later this month.
Such a move could deny Trump a huge megaphone to tout his border wall amid the ongoing budget impasse, but would also inflame tensions between the sniping power brokers and complicate bipartisan efforts to end the longest government closure in the nation’s history.
Upon taking the gavel at the start of the year, Pelosi had invited Trump to give the address on Jan. 29 — an annual event, draped in pageantry and tradition, that provides the president an enormous platform to promote his agenda for the coming year.
On Wednesday, day 26 of the history-making shutdown, Pelosi took the remarkable step of asking Trump to delay the address until the government is fully funded. Yet she did not go so far as to disinvite him, instead suggesting that, “unless government reopens this week,” the pair “work together to determine another suitable date.”
On Friday, Pelosi amplified that message.
“He’s been invited,” she told reporters in the Capitol. “All we said is, ‘Let’s work together for another date when government is open.’ ”
Yet Trump has not responded directly to Pelosi’s entreaty. Instead, he escalated the feud on Thursday when he blocked a trip Pelosi and several other Democrats had planned to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan by denying them access to military aircraft.
The squabbling intensified even further on Friday when Pelosi, who had quietly rescheduled the fact-finding trip on commercial flights, abruptly canceled that back-up plan — citing security concerns — after she said the White House leaked the news of their travel.
Pelosi characterized the leak as dangerous breach of convention, warning that broadcasting travel by political figures into war zones heightens the risk of attack.
“We never give advance notice of going into a battle area — we just never do,” Pelosi said. “Perhaps the president’s inexperience didn’t have him understand that protocol. People around him, though, should have known that because that’s very dangerous.”
The remarkable back-and-forth highlights the extent to which the debate over how to reopen the government — an impasse hinging on funding for Trump’s promised border wall — has deteriorated from a budget negotiation into a barroom brawl