It has been more than a month since the war for the border wall brought the monstrosity that is the federal government – or a good chunk of it, in any case – to a grinding halt. The fight, of course, has spilled over into every political dealing between the Democrats and Republicans – even the State of the Union Address, traditionally delivered in front of Congress by invitation of the Speaker of the House, has become a battleground.
Yet while both sides initially enjoyed nigh full backing from their respective corners, support for the queen bee of the Democratic Party is beginning to dry up. There are Democrats in the House now calling for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to negotiate on the wall, some of whom were open to Trump delivering his speech in the House chambers. Could this refusal to bend come back to bite Pelosi – or even her entire party – later?
A Sad, Sorry State of the Union
On Jan. 3, the day the new Congress was sworn in, Pelosi invited President Trump to deliver the State of the Union in the House chambers on the 29. For the first time in the history of the United States, however, she then rescinded that invitation. After some back and forth, the president sent a letter to Pelosi, informing her that he intended to go on with his address as planned. In response, she sent a missive of her own, officially closing the door:
“I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union Address in the House Chamber until government has opened.”
Some have suggested Trump find a different venue – perhaps the Senate floor or even directly from the Oval Office. However, the president, via Twitter, has agreed to postpone his speech rather than looking for a different place to deliver it, saying that there really is no alternative:
“As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative – I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a ‘great’ State of the Union Address in the near future!”
Pelosi’s Victory: Empty and Pyrrhic?
Did the president just cave to Nancy Pelosi? It looks that way. Perhaps there is some clever trick here – as some of the more diehard Trump fans are bound to suggest – but for now, Pelosi has claimed the win. But what has she won? The president has agreed to give his speech later – but the government is still shut down. Senate Republicans have refused to consider any measure to reopen the government that doesn’t include the wall funding, and the president doesn’t seem to be wavering on that front either. At the end of the day, Nancy Pelosi blocked Donald Trump from speaking to Congress in the House until the government reopens – but closed it remains.
But could this be worse than just a hollow victory? Could it prove pyrrhic?
…even some Democrats are expressing doubt in their fearless leader.
“The Speaker of the House invited President Trump on January 3 when we were sworn in. She also said that should be a town hall – a place where we could have debates and others,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) told Fox’s Sean Hannity. “I truly believe history will mark this as a low point for the Speaker of the House, for that office, to disinvite the president. That’s why tomorrow, Sean, I am bringing forth to the floor a privileged resolution disapproving of the actions of this speaker.”
McCarthy went on to cite a few Democrats who did not support the speaker’s actions, and said she was acting almost like a dictator. The privileged resolution, of course, would give the members of Congress the chance to vote on whether they approve of Pelosi’s actions.
True to his word, Rep. McCarthy introduced the resolution, reading, simply:
“Providing for a joint session of Congress to receive a message from the President.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the two Houses of Congress assemble in the Hall of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at 9:00 p.m., for the purpose of receiving such communication as the President of the United States shall be pleased to make to them.”
Consequences to Come?
Regardless of what happens with McCarthy’s vote, Pelosi has opened and unfortunate box, letting out all sorts of ills she’ll never get stuffed back inside before they come back to haunt her. Condemnation from the Republicans should come as no surprise, but now even some Democrats are expressing doubt in their fearless leader.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) said that Pelosi and other party leaders should “get in the damn room” with trump to negotiate. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told Fox that he would be open to having trump deliver the State of the Union before Congress, and conceded not only that the issue of border walls isn’t one of morality but also that they do work in some places.
Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) even went so far as to say they should cave entirely: “I’d give him the whole thing … and put strings on it so you make sure he puts the wall where it needs to be. Why are we fighting over this? We’re going to build that wall anyway, at some time.”
Beyond even that, there’s another thing Pelosi should have thought of before taking this feud beyond the border wall issue: Never before has a Speaker of the House blocked the president’s State of the Union – but now one has. Regardless of how anyone feels about either party or the hopes and dreams of conservatives, there will be another Democrat president someday, who will have to contend with a Republican controlled House. As Liberty Nation’s Tim Donner pointed out back during the Gorsuch confirmation ordeal, Democrats were the first to invoke the nuclear option on federal judges, and it came back to bite them with Trump’s first SCOTUS pick. So now Nancy has set a precedent. How long before her Democratic colleagues suffer the consequences?