News, Culture & Society

Number-two House Democrat says State of the Union address ‘is off’ during shutdown

The State of the Union address isn’t canceled – yet. But Republicans and Democrats exchanged rhetorical fire on Wednesday over whether or not the Secret Service can handle the January 29 event given that officers and agents are working without pay.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cited security in her request that President Donald Trump postpone the event during the partiail government shutdown. Homelans Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen insisted her agency is up to the task. House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer fired back that with the Secret Service lacking shutdown-furloughed support staff, Congress shouldn’t take any chances.

Hoyer had already mangled his party’s messaging by appearing to say on CNN that the annual spectacle had already been called off. 

He said that as long as the federal government is in the midst of a partial shutdown, Trump won’t be welcome to deliver the speech to a Joint Session of Congress as scheduled. 

Hoyer declared ‘the State of the Union is off,’ but meant that only if the shutdown isn’t over.

He told DailyMail.com after the CNN interview that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s refusal ‘to plan business as usual’ applied ‘when the government of the country is partially shut down.’

Pelosi wrote to Trump on Wednesday, asking him to delay his speech but not formally disinviting him.

A Hoyer spokesperson said in an email that ‘Mr. Hoyer had not read Speaker Pelosi’s letter and mischaracterized it’ on CNN. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (right) formally requested that Donald Trump delay his annual Capitol HIll speech, in a letter she sent the president on Wednesday, sparking a furious tug of war over the speech

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer misspoke on CNN and said the State of the Union Address had been canceled – only to say minutes later that it was being called off only as long as the government is partially shut down

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer misspoke on CNN and said the State of the Union Address had been canceled – only to say minutes later that it was being called off only as long as the government is partially shut down

Hoyer's spokesperson told DailyMail.com that Hoyer 'mischaracterized' Pelosi's letter on the air

Hoyer’s spokesperson told DailyMail.com that Hoyer ‘mischaracterized’ Pelosi’s letter on the air

Pelosi tweeted the letter she sent the White House, which politely asked Trump to reconsider the address she had invited him to give because of security concerns

Pelosi tweeted the letter she sent the White House, which politely asked Trump to reconsider the address she had invited him to give because of security concerns

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pushed back against Pelosi, saying U.S. Secret Service is more than capable and ‘fully prepared’ to secure the annual speech

Hoyer had appeared to misinterpret Pelosi’s meaning in saying on the air that she wouldn’t allow Trump to insist on keeping the January 29 date rather than rescheduling.

‘No,’ he said. ‘Our response will be, Mr. President, if you want to open up the government, the Senate has seven bills that it can use.’

Pelosi, a California Democrat, cited ‘security concerns’ amid the government shutdown that has lasted longer than any other federal closure in history at 26 days and counting.

She asked him to wait to speak to a Joint Session of Congress until the dispute that limits the functionality of the Department of Homeland Security has been resolved.  

Pelosi had invited Trump earlier this month to address the House and Senate, per tradition, on Jan. 29 — a date that the White House accepted.

She wrote in her letter that no president has ever delivered a State of the Union speech in the midst of a shutdown. 

‘This requires hundreds of people working on the logistics and on the security of it,’ she told reporters at the Capitol. ‘Most of those people are either furloughed or are victims of the president’s shutdown.’ 

Pelosi seemed to favor an alternative: ‘He can make it from the Oval Office.’ 

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the Secret Service is capable of shouldering the load.

‘The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union,’ she tweeted. ‘We thank the Service for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland.’ 

Hoyer went on MSNBC less than an hour later to claim Nielsen is wrong.

‘Security is a real issue,’ Hoyer insisted. ‘As it has just been said, you have the members of the Supreme Court, you have most of the members of the Cabinet, you have the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States. It is a very high-intensity security happening.’

‘And while Secretary Nielsen may say that the security can be taken care of, you’re talking about the people who haven’t been paid, who’ve been working long hours, and who have very little administrative support because they are furloughed.’ 

 

Politico reported Wednesday afternoon that a planning meeting that was to involve Capitol Hill aides, White House staff, Secret Service and Capitol Police was canceled.  

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters that he doesn’t believe Pelosi’s claim that security concerns prompted her to write her letter to the president.

‘It’s not a security issue, it’s politics and she knows it,’ McCarthy said.  

A senior White House official told DailyMail.com: ‘McCarthy is right. This is petty.’

The official asked: ‘Will you note that Pelosi lied about DHS capabilities ?’

President Trump appears at an event honoring the Clemson Tigers football team at the White House on Monday evening

President Trump appears at an event honoring the Clemson Tigers football team at the White House on Monday evening

Pelosi had invited Trump earlier this month to address the House and Senate, per tradition, on Jan. 29, a date that he accepted

Pelosi had invited Trump earlier this month to address the House and Senate, per tradition, on Jan. 29, a date that he accepted

The White House did not formally respond to a request for comment on Pelosi’s request. 

But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders crowed about a meeting of congressional moderates over lunch – an ad hoc ‘problem solvers caucus’ comprised of members who Trump hopes can be difference-makers.

‘The President and his team had a constructive meeting with bipartisan members of the problem solvers caucus. They listened to one another and now both have a good understanding of what the other wants. We look forward to more conversations like this,’ Sanders said in a statement.

A group of senators was meanwhile preparing to send Trump a letter of their own, encouraging him to surrender on the shutdown, for now, and reopen the government for three weeks in a show of good faith. 

Trump has already rejected the proposal from Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who he has spoken with in person or on the phone nearly every day over the past week. 

Graham is gathering allies, however, Politico reported, and they intend to urge him to reconsider. GOP Sens. Portman and Collins are said to be involved with the effort. 

They so far include Sens. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Chris Coons of Delaware and Rob Portman of Ohio. Coons is the lone Democrat whose name has come to light.

Their apparent goal is to reopen the fedreal government for a short period of time while the Senate starts the process of considering President Trump’s request for border security funding, including for wall construction.

Trump has said that he will not end the shutdown until Congress appropriates $5.7 billion to his border barrier, which he says could be built from steel slats or a combination of steel and concrete. 

A partial shutdown has been effect over Democrats’ refusal to provide the funds since the early hours of Dec. 22. Some 780,000 federal workers are not receiving paychecks right now. Those who have been deemed ‘essential’ are working without pay, while others are on furlough.  

The U.S. Constitution requires the president to ‘give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.’

For more than 100 years, presidents mostly delivered annual written reports to lawmakers. Woodrow Wilson delivered his speech in person in 1913, setting an example other presidents have followed.

Pelosi took her dispute with Trump a step further on Wednesday, threatening his State of the Union address. Their seen here in 2018 during the very same speech on the floor of the House

Presidents can speak to the American people now through any number of visual tools, and Trump has made frequent use of rallies, social media and short videos to get his point across. 

He delivered an Oval Office speech just last week to hammer home his points on immigration, for instance, that every major network halted its regular programming to carry live. 

Democrats demanded equal time from cable and broadcast networks to provide a rebuttal — something the party that does not hold the presidency does after the State of the Union each year, as well, putting forward one member of their party to give a prepared response to the president’s remarks.

Trump’s command of the bully pulpit this year could turn into a televised lecture on immigration that some Democrats could be inclined to boycott. 

More than a dozen Democrats declined to attend Trump’s speech in 2018, including Rep. John Lewis, a famed civil rights leader. He said he was protesting Trump’s reported comments about ‘s***hole’ African nations.

Typically delivered in January or February every year of a president’s term, except his first, when it is known as a joint address to Congress and not a State of the Union, the speech provides the sitting executive with the opportunity to lay out his agenda to a captive audience of lawmakers and judges and their guests.

Supreme Court justices in full dress join legislators from both chambers of Congress in the House of Representatives for the president’s prime time remarks. The House Speaker and the President of the Senate, who also holds the vice presidency of the United States, look on from seats immediately behind the president as he delivers the address.

Pelosi's full letter to the president, dated Jan. 16, is seen above

Pelosi’s full letter to the president, dated Jan. 16, is seen above

The first family watches the address from the gallery of the House, alongside guests of the White House in what is known as the first lady’s box. House speakers have their own box of guests, each containing 24 each.

Presidents often make mention of the first lady’s guests by name and use their trials and tribulations as anecdotes to support their policy positions and proposed legislative agendas. 

Trump last year in invited the parents of two teens slain by illegal immigrant gangsters in New York and an ICE agent who tracks down and prosecutes criminal immigrants.

‘Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country,’ Trump said in his 2018 address after name-checking the murdered girls and their parents. ‘We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents, so that this cannot ever happen again.’

In 2018, Trump used his speech primarily to lay out the four pillars of the immigration reforms he intended to put before Congress. He made mention of his U.S.-Mexico wall once in that section as he plead with lawmakers to bolster funding for border security.

‘The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age — that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration,’ he contended. ‘Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.’

Trump said that  the second part of his plan ‘fully secures the border’ and ends the practice of ‘catch and release’ into the U.S. of illegal immigrants awaiting court dates.

‘That means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe,’ he said of his ICE agent guest. ‘Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country.’

His third and fourth pillars dealt with the diversity visa lottery — a program he wants to end — and chain migration for families of immigrants already living in the country — a practice he wants to limit to nuclear relatives.

Shutdown could end 10 years of U.S. growth by March, economist predicts as airlines, manufacturers, start-ups and Wall Street bankers are all hit 

Delta Air Lines can’t get eight new aircraft in the air. Roughly a million government employees and contractors aren’t being paid. 

Some Americans who are trying to start small businesses face delays in obtaining the required tax identification number from the IRS.

As the partial government shutdown moves through its fourth week with no end in sight, the economic blow is being felt not only by federal workers but also by business people, households and travelers across the country. 

And while the hit to the overall economy so far remains slight, economists foresee real damage if the shutdown drags into February or beyond.

‘Even if the shutdown is over by the end of the month, the hit to growth will be material,’ Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a research note.

Shepherdson projects that after growing for nearly 10 years, the economy might even contract in this year’s first quarter if the shutdown lasts through March. 

Grounded: Delta, led by CEO Ed Bastian, is unable to get approval for eight new planes it wants into its fleet

Grounded: Delta, led by CEO Ed Bastian, is unable to get approval for eight new planes it wants into its fleet

Delayed: Security lines such as these at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson, are hitting air travel and will impact the economy 

Delayed: Security lines such as these at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, are hitting air travel and will impact the economy 

Other forecasts are less dire. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, thinks that if the shutdown extends that long, the economy would slow by 0.5 percentage point but would remain on solid footing.

On Tuesday, Kevin Hassett, a top economist in the White House, acknowledged that the shutdown was weighing on the economy more than he had previously estimated. Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said the White House now calculates that annual growth is slowing by about 0.1 percentage point a week.

With the shutdown in its fourth week, that calculation would suggest that the economy has lost nearly a half-percentage point of annual growth so far, though some of that loss occurred at the end of last year and some in the first quarter of this year. Hassett said the economy should enjoy a boost whenever the government reopens.

Previous White House estimates of the impact didn’t fully take into account the effects on people who work for private companies that contract with the government to provide services, Hassett said.

Feeling the pinch: Trump faces an end to 10 years of growth if the shutdown goes into March

Feeling the pinch: Trump faces an end to 10 years of growth if the shutdown goes into March

The shutdown is rippling through the economy in ways that are not always visible, making it hard to fully assess its consequences. 

Complicating the task is that much of the economic data the government normally provides – from retail sales to home construction to the nation’s gross domestic product – has been suspended because the agencies that compile it remain closed.

With national parks shut down and some travelers suffering through long security lines and in some cases partial airport closures, for example, many Americans are having to decide whether to cancel travel and vacation plans.

‘It is now plainly evident that the shutdown is affecting air travel, and when that happens, damage to the overall U.S. economy will shortly follow,’ said Jonathan Grella, a spokesman for the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group.

Some companies are pointing to specific problems: Delta said Tuesday that the shutdown is costing it $25 million a month in government travel. 

Its CEO, Edward Bastian, said that with the Federal Aviation Administration partially closed, Delta will also likely delay the start date of eight new aircraft.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which oversees public stock offerings, is mostly closed because of the shutdown. 

As a result, some companies that had been planning initial public offerings in coming months, including Uber and Lyft, are likely facing delays.

Marianne Lake, chief financial officer for JPMorgan Chase, said the bank could lose out on fees from IPOs and merger and acquisition deals that would be delayed if other shuttered agencies can’t approve them.

For small companies, too, the effects are increasingly being felt. Edward Farrer, an executive at Principal Manufacturing Corp., a manufacturer in Broadview, Illinois, said that when the shutdown took effect, his company had nearly won approval for a request to the Commerce Department to import specialty steel from Europe free of U.S. tariffs. Commerce is among the now-closed government departments.

Hit by slowdown: Future mergers, acquisition and initial public offerings are all being delayed because the Commerce Department is furloughed

Hit by slowdown: Future mergers, acquisition and initial public offerings are all being delayed because the Commerce Department is furloughed

Big name delays: Expected initial public offerings by rideshare giants are being delayed by the shutdown

Big name delays: Expected initial public offerings by rideshare giants are being delayed by the shutdown

Big name delays: Expected initial public offerings by rideshare giants are being delayed by the shutdown

‘We think we’d got it to the goal line and were waiting for an approval, but everything is at an impasse because of the shutdown,’ Farrer said.

Principal Manufacturing uses mainly American-made steel in the parts it sells to automakers and other industrial companies. 

But it imports some steel from Europe that is used to make a component for auto underbodies. 

Last spring, it asked the Trump administration to exclude that steel from the 25 percent tariffs the White House imposed on steel imports. 

Commerce was considering the request as part of a process the administration had established for companies that say they can’t obtain the steel they import from elsewhere.

For now, Farrer says Principal is paying the tariffs, which typically cost the company tens of thousands of dollars a month. It wants to keep doing the work, so it is eating the cost, Farrer said. ‘But we can’t do it forever.’

Neil Bradley, chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has heard from members that have been unable to obtain an employer identification number from the IRS. That number is needed to open bank accounts and file tax returns.

Eric Smith, an IRS spokesman, said most U.S.-based businesses can obtain the numbers online, but paper applications aren’t being processed.

The most hard-hit by the shutdown, of course, are government workers themselves, who missed their first paychecks Friday, and contractors that work closely with the government. Many have had to cut back on purchases, lowering overall consumer spending.

Among them is Pearl Fraley of Greenville, North Carolina, a consumer safety inspector for the food safety inspection service. Fraley, 53, helps ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply by monitoring slaughter processing plants. 

National park fears: Closures of facilities national parks such as Mount Hood Forest Sno-Park in Oregon, where state governor Kate Brown's husband Dan Little took a selfie, are set to hit the vacation industry - which is also set to be hit by 800,000 people without paychecks

National park fears: Closures of facilities national parks such as Mount Hood Forest Sno-Park in Oregon, where state governor Kate Brown’s husband Dan Little took a selfie, are set to hit the vacation industry – which is also set to be hit by 800,000 people without paychecks

Fraley’s job, which she’s held for over 15 years, is deemed essential, so she’s had to go to work even though she isn’t being paid. 

She and her co-workers were told in an email that if they work 40 hours, they aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits under North Carolina rules – even though they’re receiving no pay.

Fraley said she feels like ‘an indentured servant’ and said her stress level is ‘over the top.’

‘I can’t pay my rent,’ she said. ‘I can’t pay my car payment or insurance. I have money for gas to go to work and for food.’

For now, her 25-year-old daughter is contributing some of the money she earns from working at McDonald’s.

Zandi said the shutdown could inflict longer-term damage on the government – and ultimately on the economy – in ways that might not be obvious.

He noted, for example, that some demoralized federal employees, particularly those with vital skills in such areas as cybersecurity, might quit for jobs in the private sector. Federal agencies may also have a harder time recruiting young workers.

‘Government workers have options,’ Zandi said, particularly with unemployment low and many employers desperate to fill jobs. ‘This could be quite debilitating to the government.’

Hassett said Tuesday that the Council of Economic Advisers itself may lose a potential new hire because of the shutdown.

A ‘young staffer who we hired for the first job out of grad school … just informed us that they might have to turn down the job and move back home because they can’t start … and they can’t be paid,’ Hassett said. 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.