U.S. President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traded taunts Thursday, but there was no end in sight for a partial federal government shutdown soon to enter its fifth week amid a continuing standoff over wall construction along the U.S.-Mexican border.
“While many Democrats in the House and Senate would like to make a deal, Speaker Pelosi won’t let them negotiate,” Trump said in a speech at the Defense Department. “Hopefully Democrat lawmakers will step forward to do what is right for our country, and what’s right for our country is border security at the strongest level.”
Democrats insist they will negotiate stronger, more effective border security measures once the government reopens, but that a border wall would wasteful, ineffective, and a blight on America’s image.
Pelosi, the top-ranking congressional Democrat, said Trump’s “insistence on the wall is a luxury we can no longer afford.”
She called for Trump to delay his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union address until government funding is restored and the shutdown ends.
“Let’s get a date when the government is open,” the speaker said.
Trump, in turn, said he was denying her use of military aircraft for her planned trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan because of the shutdown.
Hundreds of thousand of federal workers missed a paycheck last week and are set to miss another next week.
“Not only are these workers not paid, they are not appreciated by this administration,” said Pelosi, who leads the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. “We should respect what they do for their country.”
Pelosi’s move on the State of the Union drew sharp criticism from Senate Republicans.
“By disinviting POTUS for SOTU, Pelosi erased any pretext for her unwillingness to negotiate an end to the shutdown. It is personal, petty, and vindictive,” Senator John Cornyn from Texas Tweeted Thursday.
While many Democratic lawmakers applauded Pelosi, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia told MSNBC, “I think this [delaying the State of the Union] is the wrong approach to be taking … We should try to have every type of respectful dialogue that we possibly can. Where I come from in West Virginia, we just don’t act this way.”
Lawmakers of both parties are wary of the shutdown’s impact on their home states and constituencies. Georgia Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper he fears a lack of airport screeners will make it impossible for travelers to come for next month’s Super Bowl of American football.
“We’ve got a Super Bowl coming to Atlanta in about three weeks, the biggest tourism event in the world this year,” Isakson said. “What if the largest airport in the world, that’s going to bring people to the largest football game in the world, goes out of business because the TSA strikes? Then you’ve just cost millions of dollars to the United States of America, my home city of Atlanta and others.”
Trump has called for more than $5 billion in taxpayer funding for the wall, while Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in new money for border security, but none specifically for a wall.
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Photo “Nancy Pelosi” by Nancy Pelosi.
Photo “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.