Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reaction to President Donald Trump’s Twitter habit is a lot different than her predecessor’s. Unlike former Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., the California Democrat doesn’t pretend she didn’t read Trump’s tweets — she just brings them up herself.
Trump went off on a tweetstorm Thursday morning, just hours before Pelosi was scheduled to take the podium for her weekly press conference in the Capitol. It seemed almost guaranteed that she’d be asked a question about at least one of Trump’s Twitter musings.
But before any reporters got around to offering such a question, Pelosi brought one of Trump’s tweets on her own.
“What did he say today? Congress is — it doesn’t matter what Congress does,” she said.
“I knew that he wanted it all to himself,” Pelosi said, chuckling and banging her fists on the podium to emphasize her excitement over proving her theory correct.
The speaker seemed to be referring to Trump’s tweet saying that the Republicans serving on the House-Senate conference committee negotiating border security — which met for the first time Wednesday — are “wasting their time.”
“Democrats, despite all of the evidence, proof and Caravans coming, are not going to give money to build the DESPERATELY needed WALL,” Trump tweeted. “I’ve got you covered. Wall is already being built, I don’t expect much help!”
Pelosi was not surprised that Trump expects to circumvent Congress, but she laughed at the notion.
“Oh really, the president who wants the Congress to be completely irrelevant in how we meet the needs of the American people. No, come on,” she said shrugging her shoulders.
“Let them work their will,” she said of the appropriators serving on the conference committee.
Pelosi said she is committed to leaving the appropriators to their own devices, and said she would be willing to bring any agreement they reach to the House floor for a vote.
“If they come up with a bipartisan consensus, of course,” she said.
Asked if that statement would hold true if the agreement includes any funding for a wall, Pelosi spoke with utter certainty that it won’t — effectively confirming that Trump’s Twitter rant was not totally unfounded.
“There’s not going to be any wall money in the legislation,” she said.
Pelosi, however, left a small door open to expanding the fencing that currently exists along portions of the southern border.
“There’s 600 miles of something — 300 miles of them are Normandy fences,” she said. “If the president wants to call that a wall, he can call it a wall.”
The conferees can discuss whether there are places where additional Normandy fencing or other enhanced fencing is needed, Pelosi said.
“It’s all about two things — cost-benefit analysis, what’s the best way and what do you get for your dollar to protect the border,” she said. “And it’s also about — and this will be coming up if [Trump] takes some extraordinary action — the opportunity cost of the money.”
“If the money can be used better for technology then let’s see what’s the best [solution],” Pelosi added. “And by the way, when some of these fences were built, the technology was not what it is today.”