President Donald Trump postponed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s scheduled trip to Afghanistan to visit the troops because of the government shutdown, he wrote in a letter Thursday — unless, that is, she wants to “fly commercial.”
“Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip..has been postponed,” Trump wrote. “I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate. I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown.”
He continued: “Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative.”
The Speaker, and lawmakers on the congressional trip with Pelosi, were reportedly not informed that their trip had been cancelled until roughly 30 minutes before they expected to leave.
“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,” Pelosi’s spokesperson Drew Hammill said. Hammill added that both Trump and a delegation of congressional Republicans also travelled abroad visit the troops during the government shutdown.
President @realDonaldTrump’s letter to @SpeakerPelosi concerning her upcoming travel pic.twitter.com/TtBCvwp080— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) January 17, 2019
The details of Pelosi’s trip had not previously been made public, reportedly due to security concerns. According to Hammill, the delegation of lawmakers was planning on stopping in Brussels, Belgium where there was a scheduled meeting with North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies, as well as military leaders. Contrary to Trump’s letter, the delegation was not planning on going to Egypt.
A White House official told the Los Angeles Times that all official congressional delegation trips will be canceled or postponed during the shutdown from here on. However, the trip for senior White House officials and cabinet members to the Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland has not yet been cancelled.
Trump went to Iraq to visit troops over Christmas, when the government was shutdown, and New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin led a delegation to Kuwait over the same period to visit deployed military members.
There has been little progress between Trump and Democrats to end the partial government shutdown, which will hit the month mark over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend. Funding for nine of 15 federal departments expired on December 21, leaving close to 800,000 federal employees without pay.
The impasse comes over Trump’s demand for $5 billion in border wall funding — a debate Democrats refuse to have until Trump agrees to reopen the government. Pelosi sent Trump a letter earlier this week recommending they postpone his State of the Union address until the government reopened — or that he send his address to Congress in writing.
House Democrats have repeatedly voted in favor of reopening the government, with the support of a handful of Republican lawmakers. However, Trump and Senate Republicans have been unwilling to make concessions on funding for the border wall.