US President Donald Trump has retaliated against his rival, Nancy Pelosi, saying he was postponing her planned trip to Belgium and Afghanistan, citing the ongoing partial shutdown of the US federal government.
Pelosi this week asked Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address or deliver it in writing, citing security concerns due to the partial government shutdown, ongoing for 27 days.
The letter by the president effectively revealed publicly what had been largely a closely guarded trip, as it includes a congressional delegation to Afghanistan, where there is ongoing conflict.
"I am sure that you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate," the president said in a letter to Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and a top member of the Democratic party.
"Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative," Trump said to Pelosi, the second-in-line to the presidency.
Pelosi's office said the congressional delegation's trip to Afghanistan required a stop in Brussels for "pilot rest" and while there they planned to meet NATO commanders and other officials "to affirm the United States' ironclad commitment to the NATO alliance".
"The purpose of the trip was to express appreciation & thanks to our men & women in uniform for their service & dedication, & to obtain critical national security & intelligence briefings from those on the front lines," Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, said on Twitter.
Trump's letter indicated there was also a planned trip to Egypt, but Hammill said: "This weekend visit to Afghanistan did not include a stop in Egypt." It was unclear where the discrepancy originated.
The State of the Union speech, currently scheduled to take place on January 29, is held annually in the House chamber of the US Capitol. There has been a suggestion from Trump's Republican Party to hold the speech in the Senate, as the party controls that chamber of Congress.
The government is partially shut down, affecting some 800,000 federal workers directly, because Trump is demanding more than 5 billion dollars for parts of a border wall along the frontier with Mexico. The Democrats have rejected the proposal.
One of Trump's closest Republican allies, Senator Lindsey Graham, was critical of the White House, saying "one sophomoric response does not deserve another," referring to the State of the Union address.
"President Trump denying Speaker Pelosi military travel to visit our troops in Afghanistan, our allies in Egypt and NATO is also inappropriate," said Graham, who often travels to hot zones abroad and is seen as a hawk on military affairs.
Australian Associated Press