Christian leader Franklin Graham is calling on members of Congress to meet with President Trump and Vice President Pence in a prayer meeting to try to “soften hearts” to end the partial government shutdown.
In a social media statement very late Thursday, he said, “President Trump postponed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to the Middle East using a government aircraft until the shutdown is over. I don’t think members of Congress or the president should be traveling until this crisis is resolved. They should stay in Washington, working to end the shutdown. With 800,000 people not receiving paychecks and border security hanging in the balance, this is the #1 priority.”
He continued, “The true crux of the problem is that our government has largely removed God from the halls and corridors of our Capitol. I would encourage the members of Congress to come together for a prayer meeting with President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, and call on the name of God, asking Him for His wisdom and asking Him to soften everyone’s hardened hearts.”
The political vitriol in Washington reached new lows this week as the Democrats, in control of the House, refuse to even meet with or negotiate with the president over funding for the government. Trump has insisted on about $5.7 billion for border security, including wall or fence projects.
Democrats, specifically Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have refused to negotiate, thus leaving no funding plan for several government agencies.
The fight reached new levels just this week, with Pelosi making a threat that she would cancel the invitation to the president to deliver the annual State of the Union in the House chamber in a few weeks.
The president didn’t respond immediately, but a day later he ordered the postponement of Pelosi’s congressional junket to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan only an hour before its departure was scheduled.
The president argued it would be better for her to be in Washington so she could negotiate an end to the government shutdown.
“Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed,” the president wrote in a letter to Pelosi. “We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over.
“In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate. I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown.”
He said that if she chose, she still could fly commercial.
The decision followed by just a day Pelosi’s letter to Trump urging him to delay his Jan. 29 State of the Union address until the shutdown is over. Trump did not respond at the time.
Fox News sources said the announcement from the White House, which controls the military jets that Pelosi was intending to use, came as members of the speaker’s team were preparing to leave.
Some already were on an Air Force bus in Washington awaiting their ride to the jet.
Fox News said a source said the White House reasoned that the trip would keep Pelosi out of the country beyond next Tuesday night, when the next government pay period would occur.
Politico called the president’s letter a “remarkable counter-punch” to Pelosi’s demand that Trump delay or cancel the State of the Union address.
The report claimed the White House was “completely caught off guard” by Pelosi’s State of the Union demands.
The Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security dismissed Pelosi’s suggestion that security concerns were a reason to delay the SOTU.
The president has other options to deliver the State of the Union. He could ask for an invitation from the GOP-controlled Senate or do it from the Oval Office.