OPINION: Ms Pelosi grounded
NEW DELHI (The Statesman/ANN) - As the shutdown approaches a month, the fog in the United States of America has become more intense.
To the consternation of the comity of nations, Donald Trump has used his powers ~ not always firmly grounded ~ to cancel the overseas trip of Nancy Pelosi to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan, the third a festering storm-centre and the first the centre of discord over Brexit. The immediate provocation was the suggestion of the new Speaker of the House of Representatives to either defer the customary State of the Union address or else deliver it in writing because of security concerns posed by the shutdown. Her argument is remarkably cogent.
Two years after the presidential inaugural, the state of the US has scarcely been so dismal… just as the shutdown over funding a frontier wall has never been so prolonged in the history of the country. More accurately, this is the longest lapse in federal funding in US history. It is hard not to wonder whether the cancellation has been prompted by the closure of America or Ms Pelosi’s proposed use of US military aircraft to which travelling American dignitaries and officials are usually entitled. Ergo, there has been no violation of the rule-book on the part of the House Speaker. Arguably and in the wider perspective, it may even relate to the Democratic domination over the House. On the face of it, Mr Trump does sound convincing when he argues that “in light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate”.
The exchange of mail scarcely conceals the bickering at rarefied levels, indeed the hallmark of Trump’s America. If Ms Pelosi’s letter was blatantly political, the President’s cancellation of the Speaker’s trip was irresponsible. Altogether, the executive and the legislature in the fountain-head of democracy have cut a sorry figure. The shutdown shows up the failure of the administration, with rubbish piling up in America’s national parks. Transportation and Security Administration agents are reporting sick, while federal prison workers have been showing up to work without pay in some of America’s most dangerous prisons.
Mr Trump and the congressional leadership have met several times at the White House to negotiate an end to the showdown, but these have turned out to be abortive endeavours. The most recent meeting left the negotiating parties in a worse state than they were when they started after President Trump reportedly slammed the Situation Room table and walked out. Ms Pelosi has made it clear that Democrats would not agree to negotiating with him over the $5.7 billion in border wall funding, even if the President agrees to reopen the government without immediate wall funding. Attitudes have stiffened on either side of the fence. America is in chaos.
- Ms Pelosi grounded