Donald Trump has been urged to delay his State of the Union address unless the government shutdown ends.
"Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th."
- Nancy Pelosi
In one sense, nothing much has changed in the US in the past week. President Donald Trump remains adamant about his Mexican border wall project. The Democrats in Congress remain defiantly opposed. The impasse has led to a government shutdown that has now lasted nearly a month - with no end in sight.
All this makes it a somewhat ironic time for Trump to be making his State of the Union address, due to take place on January 29th. It could easily amount to a repeat showing of Trump's television address earlier this month pushing the case for the wall.
Pelosi speaks out again
Many have accused Trump of being the bully, but it seems the Speaker of Congress Nancy Pelosi is not one to be pushed around.
Not only did she and the leader of the Democrats in the senate Charles Schuman deliver speeches rebutting Trump's wall case, but she has now publicly requested that as long as the government shutdown continues, the President should either reschedule the address or deliver it in writing.
Her argument was that with the government agencies having an unscheduled holiday, the federal security services are idle, creating the prospect either of the event lacking security or staff at federal agencies working unpaid.
She remarked: "Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th."
Indeed, the Democrats have expressed deep concern at workers going unpaid, not least as Mr Trump has said he is prepared to continue the stand-off for years.
Not surprisingly, the Republicans have been quick to dismiss Pelosi's request. But the Democrats are doing their utmost not to be pushed around by Trump.
Indeed, such is the President's reputation for the aggressive pursuit of his own ideas that even his own nominee for US Attorney General was compelled to tell the confirmation hearing he will not be bullied by Trump.
William Barr told the hearing: "I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the President."
Just to prove his independence, he also insisted that the ongoing inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election is not the "witch hunt" Trump claimed it to be.
"I think the Russians interfered or attempted to interfere in the election and we have to get to the bottom of it," Mr Barr said.
"On my watch, Bob [Mueller] will be allowed to complete his work," he concluded, stating he had been a personal friend of the special counsel for 30 years.
Interestingly, he also confirmed that the President could not pardon someone who might incriminate him, as this would be a criminal offence.
However, the issue of Mr Barr's appointment is not as cut and dried as that, as he has in fact criticised Mr Mueller's handling of the Russia investigation in the past.
China in his hand?
Standing up to Trump is not just an issue for other US politicians and high-ranking legal officials. China, which Mr Barr labelled the biggest rival to the US, appears set to come back to the table for more trade talks on terms favourable to Trump.
The trade war going on between the two nations has significant implications for the markets, not least the trading of stocks and shares in companies affected by tariffs. Conversely, a new deal could lead to the cutting of red tape and taxes that give some firms a huge boost.
At least officials of the two countries have been talking. Indeed, after his Singapore summit with Kim Jong Un, it sometimes seems Trump is more willing to talk to Communist leaders of Asian countries than he is with Democrats.
Of course, the Chinese are at least good capitalists even if undemocratic, and Trump fees he can secure a good deal for America. Naturally, of course, he is sure it is all due to his protectionist policies that China seems to want to settle its disputes. With China's trading volumes slipping, this may be one arm wrestle Trump is winning.
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He is set to travel to Washington for more talks at the end of this month, but a range of issues remain unresolved, not least China's use of state aid to support companies and matters of intellectual property.
In America, standing up to Trump may be the best way to win favour. But for China, not a country verse to talking tough, pragmatism may win the day. If this leads to a breakthrough in the trade talks, the implications for the markets may be significant.
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