President Donald Trump claimed he canceled House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s flight to Afghanistan out of respect for the furloughed federal workers. But only hours after Trump made this announcement, he sent his wife on a military flight to Florida that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
According to Quartz, the first lady left Washington on an Air Force plane to the Trump’s private Mar-A-Lago club in Florida. They estimate the trip cost $35,000.
Trump’s original denial of Pelosi’s trip seemed in retaliation to the speaker canceling his state of the union address. “It would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the shutdown,” Trump wrote.
Read the full letter:
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) January 17, 2019
Trump said that Pelosi was welcome to fly commercial to the warzone. Drew Hammil, a spokesperson for Pelosi, said in a statement that the purpose of the trip was to meet and thank U.S. troops and attend national security briefings.
Friday morning, the White House announced it was suspending all military aircraft travel form members of Congress unless approved by them. “Under no circumstances during the government shutdown will and government owned, operated, leased, or chartered aircraft support and Congressional delegation, without [White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s] expressed written approval.”
JUST IN: White House issues a directive to executive branch agencies that bars congressional delegation travel on any government aircraft, as well as use of travel expenses, during the shutdown without White House approval. pic.twitter.com/S1FaXs5Y2S
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) January 18, 2019
The White House claims the move is so negotiations between Republicans and Democrats can move forward and the shutdown can end. According to The Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a bill Thursday night that would’ve reopened most of the government. It’s the third time McConnell has blocked legislation —already passed by the House — that would end the shutdown.