Dem caucus meeting roiled by talk of Super Bowl security amid government shutdown

A House Democratic Caucus meeting was roiled Thursday morning after one representative floated the possibility that the ongoing partial federal government shutdown might affect federal authorities’ ability to secure the upcoming Super Bowl.

“That definitely got everyone’s attention,” one House Democrat who asked not to be identified told Fox News after the meeting.

Another lawmaker told Fox News that canceling the Super Bowl — a possibility that officials have not suggested — “would definitely lead to the end of the government shutdown.” The game is set for Feb. 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Super Bowls, including last year’s game in Minneapolis, typically are designated at Special Event Assessment Rating level 1 and involve tight coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rates SEARs 1 through 5, with level 1 indicating the most risk.


A DHS rating of SEAR 1 is just below that of a National Special Security Event, a designation for major national or international events that face the highest potential terr risks. At last year’s Super Bowl, roughly 30 federal agencies — including the FBI, Secret Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — were on hand, as well as cybersecurity officials.

In this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, photo, the Atlanta Falcons playing the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta last month. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik, File)

In this Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, photo, the Atlanta Falcons playing the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz stadium in Atlanta last month. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik, File)

The drama at the House caucus meeting came as President Trump earlier in the day abruptly rejected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s effort to use military aircraft to embark on an overseas trip, saying it was inappropriate for a congressional delegation to embark on a “seven-day excursion” to Afghanistan and Brussels during the shutdown.

Hours later, Trump also canceled the White House delegation’s planned trip to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.

“Out of consideration for the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay and to ensure his team can assist as needed, President Trump has canceled his Delegation’s trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland,” a White House statement read.

Pelosi, a day earlier, had suggested in a letter that Trump’s planned Jan. 29 State of the Union address on Capitol Hill might need to be postponed, because DHS and Secret Service agents have been working without pay.


“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on Jan. 29,” Pelosi wrote in her letter to Trump.

Pelosi claimed that a furloughed DHS employee had come to her office to raise concerns about security at the traditional speech, which brings together all three branches of government. Those agencies, reached by Fox News, pushed back on Pelosi’s remarks and insisted they were ready and able to secure the State of the Union speech.

Speaking to Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier” Wednesday evening, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., suggested the State of the Union address may go on as planned.

“No, I don’t think it’s officially off,” Hoyer said. “We — I had not seen the speaker’s letter. What she suggests is a real security problem unless we’ve opened up the government. So — and we haven’t gotten a reply from the president and his thoughts.  So it’s — it’s not officially off.  No.”

Even if the upcoming Super Bowl proceeds according to plan, the night still might garner some controversy. A popular petition has called for halftime performers Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi to show solidarity with free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick and take a knee during their performance.

As of Wednesday, the Change.org petition had garnered more than 85,000 signatures.

“Show the hundreds of millions of people watching that you stand in solidarity with Kaepernick and all players who protest police brutality,” the petition read. “Use this opportunity to force the NFL to change their policy.”

Fox News’ Bret Baier and Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.

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