I have a ton of respect for Speaker Nancy Pelosi as both a legislative leader and a consistent champion of human rights in foreign policy from opposing the Iraq War to supporting Ukraine and Taiwan against their hostile neighbors. That said, this trip is ill advised for a few reasons.
1) The President Sets Foreign Policy
I was deeply offended when then Speaker Boehner invited then Israeli PM Netanyahu to blast President Obama and the Iran nuclear deal in front of a joint session of Congress. I even criticized it on this blog at the time. It is always dangerous to show our enemies that we are divided over important foreign policy questions and it makes it unclear who is in charge. The framers and precedent and practicality make it crystal clear, in my view, that the President has the sole authority to conduct American foreign policy but do so in consultation with and with the consent of Congress. In this way, Pelosi is getting ahead of her skis and not staying in her lane. It is particularly problematic since she is undermining a President of her own party.
With Biden’s approval ratings in the toilet, Russia in a bloody stalemate with Ukraine, and the inability of her own majority to pass anything substantial in Congress to codify Roe or build back better, why go on this trip? Why now when tensions with Beijing are the highest they have been in decades? It is needlessly provocative.
It is likely the Speaker and her plane will require a USAF or Naval fighter escort, which will be fodder for the Fox crowd (unfairly) harping on security costs and also will provoke a response from Chinese fighter planes who have been known to strafe dangerously close to American and Taiwanese aircraft. An accident that kills the Speaker and American personnel, even if unintentional, will have to provoke an American military response against China. Moreover, if Chinese planes cross Taiwanese airspace it could provoke a military response from Taiwan.
Put quite simply, the rewards are low since her position on this issue is quite clear while her credibility is high. The risks are too high and she should stay home.