House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she wanted to postpone or cancel the State of the Union address because she said the Secret Service wouldn’t be ready due to the shutdown. That’s all right, the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security said, we’re fine.
Speaker Pelosi’s response? “I don’t care what they said.”
That didn’t sit well with White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
In an appearance on Fox News’ “Watters’ World” on Saturday, Sanders called Pelosi’s use of the Secret Service as part of her attempt to cancel the State of the Union “shameful.”
“Any of these mainstream media folks praising the so-called power move by Nancy Pelosi, there’s nothing powerful about the speaker of the House questioning the ability of the United States Secret Service who have said they have no problem protecting the president,” Sanders told host Jesse Watters.
“Let’s be real clear — the Secret Service protected the president when he was in Iraq. I’m pretty sure they can handle the job on Capitol Hill. I think, frankly, it’s shameful and unbecoming of the speaker to pull the action that she did in regards to questioning the United States Secret Service.”
Pelosi had questioned the ability of the Secret Service in her letter to the president last Wednesday.
Today, I wrote to @realDonaldTrump recommending that we delay the State of the Union until after government re-opens, as the @SecretService, the lead federal agency for #SOTU security, faces its 26th day without funding. https://t.co/K2oL8WGvqo pic.twitter.com/g3fIlxDbbK
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 16, 2019
“In September 2018, Secretary Nielsen designated State of the Union Addresses as National Special Security Events (NSSEs), recognizing the need for ‘the full resources of the Federal Government to be brought to bear’ to ensure the security of these events,” Pelosi wrote. “The extraordinary demands presented by NSSEs require weeks of detailed planning with dozens of agencies working together to prepare for the safety of all participants.
“The U.S. Secret Service was designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for National Special Security Events by Public Law 106-544, December 19, 2000. However, both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now — with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th,” she concluded.
Nielsen, meanwhile, had a rather blunt reply for the speaker.
The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union. We thank the Service for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) January 16, 2019
When asked about Nielsen’s response by reporters, after saying that the reason she wanted the speech postponed was definitely about security, Pelosi arrogantly responded, “I don’t care what they said.”
And, while she’s busy sending letters and ignoring the Secret Service, Sanders pointed out, Pelos is busy doing virtually anything but engaging in actual negotiations.
“They refuse to sit down at the table and have the conversation with the president,” Sanders said, noting Pelosi’s holiday trip to Hawaii and a congressional Democrat junket to Puerto Rico to take in a showing of the musical “Hamilton.”
“Nancy Pelosi is too busy taking vacations in Hawaii. Her team is going to Puerto Rico doing cocktail parties and Broadway shows. They need to be sitting down with the president,” Sanders said.
And that’s the point — they aren’t, and they aren’t going to until they get what they want, which isn’t how negotiations work.
However, while the Secret Service gambit may have made a media splash at first, the logic starts to putrefy when exposed to the facts. These aren’t underpaid government clerks who have missed a few paychecks. These are seasoned professionals whose job is to protect those in power.
If Secret Service agents can protect the president on a daily basis — including over in Iraq — they can certainly protect the State of the Union, an event for which they’ve been planning for months.
Eventually, I’d wager, Pelosi’s “power move” is going to be seen as what it is — a very bad excuse to try and punish the president for the government shutdown. Once that becomes the narrative, that’s when you’re going to start seeing the Democrats willing to make a deal.
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