Citing the U.S. government’s partial shutdown, President Donald Trump has forced the cancellation of a trip by the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to Afghanistan just as her delegation was preparing to travel.
Trump said in a letter to Pelosi late on January 17 that the congressional delegation, which was scheduled to visit American troops in Afghanistan as well as make a stop in Brussels, that he was denying use of a military plane for what he called a “public relations event.”
“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,” Trump said in the letter.
“We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over,” he added, noting Pelosi and the other lawmakers were free to make their own travel arrangements “by flying commercial.”
Pelosi did not immediately comment on Trump’s move, which he has the power to make as the commander-in-chief of the military.
The political sparring between two of the country’s leading officials comes on the 27th day of the shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.
The government is partially shut down because Trump is demanding more than $5 billion for parts of a wall along the border with Mexico, something the Democrats have rejected outright.
Pelosi raised the ire of the Republican president earlier this week when she asked Trump to postpone his January 29 State of the Union address, or submit it in writing, due to security concerns because of the shutdown.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham appeared to voice growing frustration with both sides saying in a tweet that "One sophomoric response does not deserve another."
Graham characterized Pelosi's State of the Union move as "very irresponsible," but he also said Trump's denial of a military plane to lawmakers was "also inappropriate."
Press Secretary Sarah Sanders later announced that the White House was canceling a trip to the World Economic Forum by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U. S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, because of the shutdown.
Trump, an attendee at the global meeting of world business and political leaders in Switzerland last year, had already said he would not attend.