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Increasingly Bitter Showdown Continues Between President Trump And Speaker Pelosi

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

President Trump and Speaker Pelosi are in an increasingly bitter showdown over what is now the longest partial government shutdown in history.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

On Wednesday, the speaker delayed the president's ability to give State of the Union address from the House chamber, telling him he could submit it in writing instead.

KELLY: On Thursday, the president retaliated by denying the speaker use of military aircraft for a congressional trip to visit NATO commanders in Belgium and troops in the field in Afghanistan. The president suggested they might want to fly commercial instead.

SHAPIRO: Today, Pelosi canceled the group's plans to do just that. She then accused the Trump administration of leaking her classified commercial travel plans.

KELLY: To end the shutdown, one of these two is going to have to crack. NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis has this report on Washington's most contentious power struggle.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Back at the start of the shutdown last month, the White House thought Nancy Pelosi would be more willing to cut a deal on the border wall after she secured the votes to become speaker again. North Carolina Republican Congressman Mark Meadows tried to tell them they were wrong.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARK MEADOWS: (Laughter) I told them then. I am - I would reiterate it now. Her being willing to negotiate had nothing to do with the speaker's gavel.

DAVIS: The White House may have underestimated Pelosi, but conservatives like Meadows never did.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MEADOWS: I've never questioned her resolve or her being a worthy adversary.

DAVIS: Pelosi has largely put to rest lingering doubts that she'd be willing to go toe to toe and tit for tat with President Trump. While the president has been unusually restrained when it comes to the speaker, Pelosi has been jabbing at the president's negotiating skills for weeks.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

NANCY PELOSI: What negotiating table are we not at? The last one we went to, I think, was a setup where the president pounded as he gave himself leverage to leave the room.

DAVIS: Today, Trump jabbed back in a tweet suggesting the speaker spends too much time in wine country. These escalating tensions have only pushed the two negotiators further apart on what it will take to end the partial government shutdown, and their political allies are digging in behind them to hold the line. Here's Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAREN BASS: We see a strong woman and a man who has never had to experience a strong woman with as much power as she has now.

DAVIS: Trump loyalists like New York Republican Congressman Chris Collins say there is no good faith between the president and the speaker when it comes to the wall.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHRIS COLLINS: She is attempting, going into the 2020 elections already, trying to deny him his signature promise to America.

DAVIS: Many Republicans believe the only way out is for the president to end-run around Congress, declare a national emergency and use military funds to build a border wall. Here's Collins again.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

COLLINS: Absent that, if she doesn't budge, this government could stay shut down for certainly weeks, if not months.

DAVIS: The only thing members seem to agree on is there is no end in sight for this shutdown. Congressman Meadows says this impasse is setting the tone for what is likely to be a very contentious new Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MEADOWS: How it's resolved, the fact that we're in it, I don't see that it could have anything of a meaning other than a very difficult two years to come.

DAVIS: And the president and the speaker are just getting started. Susan Davis, NPR News, the Capitol. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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