Irish eyes at the US Capitol will not smile on US president Donald Trump on St Patrick’s Day.
He is skipping an annual lunch with House and Senate politicians celebrating the ties that bind the US and Ireland, a White House spokesman said.
The president blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Since the Speaker has chosen to tear this nation apart with her actions and her rhetoric, the president will not participate in moments where she so often chooses to drive discord and disunity,” spokesman Judd Deere said.
The House Speaker traditionally hosts the lunch.
Mr Trump instead will celebrate with Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the White House on Thursday – five days before St Patrick’s Day.
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms Pelosi, said congressional support for the US-Ireland relationship has never been stronger.
“One would think that the White House could set petty, partisan politics aside for this historic occasion,” he said.
Mr Trump attended the lunch in 2017 and 2018 when Republican Paul Ryan was Speaker and in 2019 after Ms Pelosi won back the gavel.
But he remains incensed with Ms Pelosi for leading the Democratic-controlled House in December to impeach him after he asked Ukraine’s leader to investigate Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden while delaying delivery of military aid Congress had approved to help the country defend against Russian aggression.
The Senate’s Republican majority voted in February to acquit Mr Trump.
Speaker Thomas O’Neill hosted the first St Patrick’s Day lunch in March 1983.
President Ronald Reagan and other House and Senate politicians attended the gathering, which had been arranged to ease tension between the two Irish-American leaders, according to the House.
The lunch became an annual event on Capitol Hill in 1987, missed by presidents just four times since then.
Bill Clinton sent regrets after having knee surgery two days before St Patrick’s Day in 1997, while George W Bush passed on the 2003 lunch, held days before the US invasion of Iraq.
Last year, Ms Pelosi said the lunch is “a tradition where we dispense with our differences, whether they’re political or whether they’re competitive in any other way”.