AP reporting–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who if you weren’t aware is third in line of succession to the Presidency after Donald Trump and Mike Pence, just slammed home a presidential-grade power play that reminded all of Washington how Congress is a separate and (key word here) equal branch of government:
The partial government shutdown threw a prime Washington ritual into question Wednesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Donald Trump to forgo his Jan. 29 State of the Union speech, expressing doubts that the hobbled government can provide adequate security. Republicans saw her move as a ploy to deny Trump the stage.
In a letter to Trump, Pelosi said that with both the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department entangled in the shutdown, the president should speak to Congress another time or he should deliver the address in writing. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied anyone’s safety is compromised, saying both agencies “are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.”
Inviting the president to give the speech is usually pro forma, and Pelosi issued the invitation in routine fashion, in consultation with the White House, several weeks ago. But with the shutdown in its fourth week, the White House and Democrats in a stalemate and the impasse draining the finances of hundreds of thousands of federal employees, little routine is left in the capital.
With nationwide polling showing clearly that Trump and Republicans are losing the battle for public opinion during the longest government shutdown in American history, there’s little incentive for Pelosi to allow business as usual to proceed–including the State of the Union address, which would only give Trump a platform to whinge from. Even setting aside the security concerns while hundreds of thousands of federal employees are furloughed, going ahead with the pomp and circumstance of the SOTU while federal workers borrow money from their parents and raid their retirement accounts to pay the mortgage seems like a toxic enough visual that Republicans shouldn’t want to do it either.
There’s still time for business to return to usual, but that will require Trump to do something he doesn’t like.
Lose. To a woman.