Schumer and Pelosi Tap Themselves to Respond to Trump Speech

Schumer and Pelosi Tap Themselves to Respond to Trump Speech

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi will deliver a response to President Trump’s address on Tuesday.CreditCreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, will jointly deliver a response to President Trump’s prime time address declaring a crisis at the southwestern border, they announced on Tuesday.

Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer will speak from the Capitol after Mr. Trump completes his remarks from the Oval Office, which are scheduled to be broadcast live by the major television networks. The dueling addresses from opposite sides of Pennsylvania Avenue will unfold at the close of Day 18 of a government shutdown over Mr. Trump’s demand for $ 5.7 billion for a border wall that Democrats have steadfastly opposed.

The Democratic leaders’ decision to select themselves as the message-bearers to counter the president underscores how a partisan power struggle in a new era of divided government is undergirding the discussions over resolving the shutdown, even as the paychecks of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and benefits for millions of Americans hang in the balance.

Mr. Trump, who spent much of the first two weeks of the shutdown cloistered inside the White House saying little about it, is now using the powers of the presidency to focus public attention on his ominous immigration message in an effort to build support for the idea of erecting a large wall on the border with Mexico. Democrats, newly in control of the House, are steering clear of talk of the wall itself, and instead are working to focus attention on the damaging impacts of the shutdown.

Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, also plans to make a public response to Mr. Trump, which his office said would be streamed live on social media platforms after Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer conclude their remarks. The move was reminiscent of how a fractious Republican Party responded to State of the Union addresses when Barack Obama was president: Republican leaders designated a formal response and Tea Party-aligned conservatives chose their own messengers to deliver a different rebuttal.

Mr. Trump is planning a trip to the border in McAllen, Tex., on Thursday while Democrats plan to bring up a succession of bills this week to reopen shuttered parts of the government, including the Internal Revenue Service, to allow tax refunds to be paid, and the Department of Agriculture, to ensure that food assistance and farmer support payments can be made.

The Treasury Department and the I.R.S. will come first, then agriculture and Interior Department programs, including the national parks, on Thursday, followed by transportation and housing programs on Friday.

“There is no crisis, there is no invasion, there is no clear and present danger, as the president would try to convey to the American people to scare them and to justify actions otherwise not justified,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, the majority leader, who said he does not believe Mr. Trump has the authority to declare a national emergency to deal with border security, a move the White House says the president is weighing. “We are going to, daily, urge and take efforts to open up the government. Whatever problems confront us, they are exacerbated — not relieved — by shutting down government.”

A group of Senate Democrats announced they would spend Tuesday evening taking turns on the Senate floor calling on Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, to bring up the House-passed legislation to reopen the government. The dozen Democrats, led by Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia and Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, plan to spotlight the negative impact of the shutdown on federal workers and those who benefit from government programs.

In the House, the shutdown has proved a unifying issue for newly elected Democrats who campaigned as fierce opponents of Mr. Trump. In a brief but scathing speech from the House floor, Representative Ayanna Pressley, Democrat of Massachusetts, spoke directly to the president, uttering his name and earning a gentle reprimand from the presiding officer, who reminded her that lawmakers are barred from personally impugning the president or other elected officials.

“You devalue the life of the immigrant, the worker and the survivor,” Ms. Pressley said. “This has nothing to do with border security; your shutdown, another Trump-generated crisis, has brought a tsunami of hurt to the American people.”


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