A scenario of political tit-for-tat is playing itself out in the United States as the government shutdown there edges closer to a month long over irreconcilable differences for the funding of a southern border wall with Mexico.
In the latest salvo President Donald Trump blocked a Congressional trip led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Afghanistan and Brussels by denying her delegation the use of a military aircraft just a day after the Democratic leader wrote to the White House to urge the postponement of the State of the Union address until the Government was re-opened.
It’s day 28 of the longest government shutdown in history and the political pressure on both sides is palpable.
President Trump informing the Speaker that her Congressional oversight trip to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan and NATO commanders in Brussels was postponed, calling it a public relations event while expressing his preference that Pelosi remained in Washington to negotiate a deal on ending the shutdown.
Just a day earlier, Pelosi drew first blood when she suggested they work together to determine another suitable date for the State of the Union after the Government had re-opened.
“No I am not denying him a platform at all. We’re saying let’s get a date, when government is open. Let’s pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it’s OK not to pay people who do work. I don’t. I have no doubt that our men and women in the federal workforce have the capability to protect — the inference that they want to say is you don’t think that they can. Yes they can. They’re professionals. They trained for this. They should be paid for this. And that’s why I said to the president let’s…if you don’t open up government if that doesn’t happen let’s discuss a mutually agreeable date.”
The Congressional trip was just hours away from departing; an air force bus expected to ferry them to a military aircraft was seen idling out the Capitol Thursday afternoon.
Even some Republicans expressed their concerns with Senator Lindsay Graham tweeting that “one sophomoric response did not deserve another”.
Some 800-thousand federal workers countrywide are without pay until the political impasse is resolved. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We are now entering nothing less than a full-blown crisis that is about to have massive effects on the people in New York City. And it is a crisis with no end in sight. It’s a crisis that will get worse and worse with each passing month. My job whenever possible is to reassure people and let them know that we have things well in hand. But when it comes to the shutdown of our federal government things are beginning to spin out of control and things are happening that no city and no state could possibly compensate for.”
Businesses particularly in an around the nation’s capital are also experiencing the ripple effects of federal employees staying home. Brandon Skall owns a local Brewery in Washington.
“This city is full of government workers, government contractors. It really provides for a lot of the economy of the city and it’s quite far-reaching actually. Something like this furlough doesn’t really just affect the workers themselves, it affects all the local businesses that also thrive on that business.”
Mohammad Badah owns a falafel food truck near Capitol Hill.
“This is what I was thinking earlier, like if its going to stay till Monday next week, I am thinking of just to close both the trucks and either stay at home or look for some other job. I am losing every day, every day I am losing, I am losing, I am losing. Everyday I am behind now, so it’s not worth it. Absolutely, it’s not worth it.”
President Trump wants 5.7 billion dollars in wall financing from the Democratic controlled Congress that has refused. The White House was later also forced to cancel a U.S. delegation trip to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland or face accusations of hypocrisy.
About two hours after Trump grounded Pelosi’s military aircraft, an air force plane carrying the First Lady Melania Trump took off from Joint Base Andrews, later landing at Palm Beach International Airport – the location of Trump’s Mar-a-lago retreat.