Photo by Master Sgt. Mark Olsen

Trump denies military aircraft for Pelosi overseas trip

Pelosi was headed to Brussels to meet with NATO, Afghanistan to visit troops

January 17, 2019 - 2:59 pm

In the latest tit-for-tat known as the government shutdown. President Trump has sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that her "trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan is postponed" by denying her military transport. 

The letter comes in the wake of Pelosi's call for Trump to postpone his State of the Union speech until after the shutdown.

In effect, Trump is denying Pelosi the use of military aircraft for an overseas trip she apparently had planned.  Trips like these, known as a CODEL, or congressional delegation trip, are usually not promoted in advance due to security concerns.  Pelosi's trip had not been publicized until the letter.  Earlier today, House Republican Whip Steve Scalice had mentioned that Pelosi would be going to Brussels, but asked news organizations to not report it for security reasons.  Pelosi was scheduled to leave an hour after Trump released the letter.  The White House is now saying that all CODELs are cancelled during the shutdown, to ensure members are in Washington for negotiations.

In the letter, Trump calls the trip a "public relations event" that is "inappropriate" during the shutdown in light of federal workers who are not being paid.

White House Spokesperson Sarah Sanders tweeted out the letter:

Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill responded that "the purpose of the trip was to express appreciation & thanks to our men & women in uniform for their service & dedication, & to obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines."

Hammill says the trip was not making a stop in Egypt.

Should Pelosi decide to continue the trip, the president suggested she fly commercial.

In a tweet, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the back-and-forth "sophomoric."

"I wish our political leadership could find the same desire to work for common goals as those who serve our nation in uniform and other capacities," said Graham.

Military transport is used for congressional delegations to visit abroad when for the purpose of representing the United States regarding matters regarding the legislative program.  A DoD memo dated January 15, 2010 says, "it is DoD policy that support for approved travel of members and employees of Congress shall be provided on an economical basis upon request of Congress pursuant to law, or where necessary to carry out DoD duties and responsibilities."  Also, the travel is appropriate when "insuring travel of members and employees of Congress is sponsored by the Department of Defense only where the purpose of the travel is of primary interest to and bears a substantial relationship to programs or activities of the Department of Defense and is not solely for the purpose of engendering goodwill or obtaining possible future benefits."

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