Trump Insisted He'll Still Give State of the Union Amid Shutdown, but Pelosi Says: No You Won't
The same day that President Donald Trump fired back at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, insisting he would in fact deliver the customary State of the Union address next week — government shutdown or no — she said it would be canceled until the shutdown ended.
In a letter sent Wednesday to Trump, Pelosi said the House of Representatives would not authorize the president’s speech at the House “until [the] government has reopened,” the Washington Post reports.
The House speaker invites the president each year to update Congress on the country, as required by the Constitution. The form of the speech has changed over the centuries and now occurs annually before a joint session of Congress in the House.
Trump had sent a letter of his own to Pelosi on Wednesday in which he said he still planned to give the speech at the Capitol.
On Jan. 16, amid an ongoing shutdown of the federal government, Pelosi said Trump should work with her to reschedule his State of the Union or deliver it only in writing — an implicit jab at his well-documented love of the pomp of televised events.
Pelosi said that given the funding freeze, there were concerns about providing adequate security should the speech proceed as planned during the shutdown.
But in his letter on Wednesday, the president said that he was told by Homeland Security and the Secret Service that “there would be absolutely no problem regarding security with respect to the event.”
“I look forward to seeing you,” Trump wrote to Pelosi.
He concluded: “It would be very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!”
In her own letter Wednesday announcing the postponement, Pelosi wrote, “I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when the government has been opened.”
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In an earlier, apparently retaliatory move after Pelosi suggested he reschedule the speech, Trump canceled her use of government aircraft at the last second, essentially scuttling a secret trip she had planned to the Middle East.
The government shutdown, which has left some 800,000 federal workers without pay, entered its 33rd day on Wednesday and is already the longest such closure in American history.
The shutdown began on Dec. 22 over the president’s insistence for funding for a proposed southern border wall needed to stem a “crisis” of drugs and violence.
Congressional Democrats, following decisive victories in last year’s midterm elections, dismissed a wall as immoral and ineffective and have urged him to agree to reopen the government while they continue to debate the best border security measures.
Trump called for his own compromise: Last weekend he proposed that Democrats give him the money for a wall and he would temporarily extend certain protections for immigrants who had entered the country illegally, including those who were children brought here by their parents.