House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit USA troops in Afghanistan, saying President Donald Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip.
About 25% of the federal government has shut down, the longest such shutdown in U.S. history, leading to hundreds of thousands of furloughed workers as well as hundred of thousands of employees working without pay.
Just hours before Pelosi and other members of Congress were to board a military jet to visit troops in Afghanistan, Trump told her she couldn't go.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said she planned to travel to Afghanistan and Brussels to thank service members and obtain briefings on national security and intelligence "from those on the front lines".
The government partially shut down just before Christmas when Democratic lawmakers refused to give Trump the $5 billion he demanded in border wall funding.
For security reasons, Pelosi would normally make such a trip on a military aircraft supplied by the Pentagon. Pelosi's letter was a strongly worded request (Graham calls it a "threat"), whereas Trump outright denied Pelosi's travel.
Pelosi predicted that after meeting with Trump the lawmakers will want to make a "citizen's arrest", according to the aide, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Trump responded by canceling the military plane that was to have carried Pelosi and a congressional delegation to Afghanistan on the previously undisclosed troop visit.
"There is also strong agreement that if we reopen the government, the possibility exists to work together and find common ground to tackle some of our country's toughest problems and fix them", the group said in the joint statement. "We want to be able to come to a solution and negotiate".
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Wednesday pushed back on Pelosi's request that Trump should delay his State of the Union address since federal agencies designated to provide security for the event have not been funded due to partial government shutdown.
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While Republican Senator Susan Collins said she has signed, others said GOP support was lacking.
In this possible position of grandstanding for President Trump, many critics are nearly certain that the controversial POTUS will not turn down the opportunity to thumb his nose at the opposing Democrats and all those who are against his "build a wall" policy. "It is small. It is vindictive".
Said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.:"Right now, are you seeing any pressure on Democrats?"
"One sophomoric response does not deserve another". "Speaker Pelosi's threat to cancel the State of the Union is very irresponsible and blatantly political".
Trump has still not said how he will handle Pelosi's attempt to have him postpone his State of the Union address until the government is reopened so workers can be paid for providing security for the grand Washington tradition. Let's pay the employees.
Ivanka Trump, who had been rumoured to be a contender for the position herself, will not be a candidate, Ditto said.
Trump has continued to insist he has the power to sign an emergency declaration to deal with what he says is a crisis of drug smuggling and trafficking of women and children at the border.
Instead, he is focused on pushing Democrats to return to the negotiating table - though he walked out of the most recent talks last week - and seized on the fact that a group of House and Senate Democrats were on a retreat in Puerto Rico. And the State Department instructed all USA diplomats in Washington and elsewhere to return to work next week with pay, saying it had found money for their salaries at least temporarily.
Todd said the department's employees would be paid on February 14 for work performed beginning on or after this coming Sunday. Some 800,000 federal workers missed paychecks Friday, deepening anxieties about mortgage payments and unpaid bills, and about half of them were off the job, cutting off some services.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had raised eyebrows among the US diplomatic corps last week when he proclaimed that morale at the State Department was "good" despite the shutdown and the fact that 40 percent of its employees in the USA and almost 23 percent overseas had been furloughed and the rest were working without pay.