Washington: In a tit-for-tat move, US President Donald Trump cancelled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's planned trip to three countries, a day after she angered Republicans by suggesting the President should delay his State of the Union Address due to the impasse over the ongoing partial government shutdown.
Hours before Pelosi and top Democrats were set to depart on Thursday to Afghanistan, Belgium and Egypt, Trump released a letter cancelling what he termed a "public relations event", reports The Washington Post.
"Due to the shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed," he wrote.
"I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the shutdown.
"We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the shutdown is over.
"Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative," the President added.
The President's letter to Pelosi followed one she wrote to him on Wednesday suggesting him to postpone his State of the Union address, set for January 29, if the partial government shutdown does not end this week, citing security concerns because of Secret Service and other personnel who are working without pay.
Just as Pelosi pointed to security officials working without pay as a reason to delay his State of the Union address, Trump said he was postponing Pelosi's trip "in light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay".
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill responded to Trump's letter pointing out the President's own shutdown trip to Iraq as well as one by Republican lawmakers, reports CNN.
"The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation and thank our men and women in uniform for their service and dedication, and to obtain critical national security and intelligence briefings from those on the front lines," Hammill tweeted on Thursday night.
He said the stop in Brussels was also to have included meetings with NATO leadership.
Democrats also responded angrily to the move.
"All too often in the last two years, the President has acted like he's in the fifth grade. And to have someone who has that kind of character running the country is an enormous problem at every level," said Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman who had been due to travel with the speaker.
Some Republicans also condemned the move.
"One sophomoric response does not deserve another," Senator Lindsey Graham, a top Republican ally of the President's, wrote in a statement.
Senator John Cornyn, a member of Republican leadership, bemoaned "too much childishness" in the shutdown fight between Trump and Pelosi.
The shutdown entered its 27th day on Thursday as Trump and Pelosi remained at loggerheads on the issue of the President's border wall.
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