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Some White House Officials Are Concerned That Nancy Pelosi Will Be the Top Ranking Government Official on U.S. Soil For a Period of Time Next Week

A scenario they usually try to avoid.

White House officials have expressed concerns over President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence's overlapping travel schedules. Trump will be in Vietnam for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Pence in Colombia and sources within the administration don't particularly like that for a short time next week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be the top ranking government official on U.S. soil.

"It's rare and unusual, and usually they [the White House] try to avoid it," presidential historian Michael Beschloss told Axios, one of several sources who sighed over the sloppy scheduling.

This isn't the first time this has happened either, though the last time the president and the vice president's travel schedules overlapped was when Paul Ryan was the House Speaker:

  • A source within the administration pointed out that Pence and Trump were both out of the country for a short period on December 1, 2018. At the time, Trump was in Argentina for the G20 summit and Pence was in Mexico for the inauguration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
  • Both Trump and Pence were overseas on November 11, 2018. Trump was returning from a trip to France at the time and Pence was attending meetings in Asia.

Trump's predecessor also once experienced a scheduling overlap, though for only a 20-minute window in March 2013 when former President Barack Obama was traveling to Israel and Vice President Joe Biden was returning from Italy.

Pelosi has proven an effective roadblock from some of the president's more irrational impulses, most prominently when he capitulated to Democrats' demands and ended the longest government shutdown in American history. Considering how much the Trump administration has tried to avoid any scenario that would make Pelosi the most powerful government official in the United States no matter how temporarily, many find this development rather humorous, if not comforting altogether.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The Vietnam summit, due to take place on Wednesday and Thursday, is the first meeting between Trump and Kim since they met in Singapore last June. Diplomats on both sides plan to discuss a possible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The Korean community in Vietnam is 60,000 strong and has expressed hope that the summit could mark an important step to Korean reunification.

“We can’t pass the divided Korean peninsula [on] to our next generation. We fully welcome the summit which may resolve the 70 years of our division,” said Yoon Sang-ho, chairman of the Korean Association in Hanoi. “Koreans in Hanoi wish the next generations of ours to live in a conflict-free Korean peninsula. I strongly wish this summit would bring pragmatic peace to the region.”

Pence's trip to Colombia, a U.S. ally which shares a border with Venezuela, will mark the United States' continued support for National Assembly President Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. and other nations recognize as Venezuela's interim president. Pence will call for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to step down, an act Alyssa Farah, the vice president's spokeswoman, says is necessary for stability in the region:

"The struggle in Venezuela is between dictatorship and democracy, and freedom has the momentum. Juan Guaidó is the only legitimate leader of Venezuela, and it's time for Nicolas Maduro to go. The United States is proud to join the Lima Group and other global partners to marshal our resources, provide much needed humanitarian relief, and stand together with the people of Venezuela until democracy and freedom are fully restored."

Pelosi, meanwhile, announced that the House will vote on legislation that could halt the president's national emergency declaration.

“This issue transcends partisan politics. It's about patriotism," Pelosi told reporters earlier today as she called on her Republican colleagues to join Democrats in defending Congress’s “exclusive power of the purse.”

The president last week declared a national emergency to access billions of dollars to construct a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border after Congress denied his requests for funding. The declaration has ignited a dispute about separation of powers, and the president’s reasoning is already facing legal challenges. Although 16 states have filed a lawsuit challenging his national emergency declaration, the White House intends to move forward with plans to shift existing federal funds to pay for the wall’s construction.