WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not allow President Donald Trump to deliver the State of the Union address in the House chamber until after the shutdown is over and the government has reopened.
“I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened,” she wrote in response to Trump’s letter, delivered on Wednesday, in which he indicated that he planned to move forward with the address on Jan. 29.
“Again, I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened,” she added.
In his letter, Trump suggested that he was still planning to deliver his State of the Union address from the House chamber on Jan. 29, in what was essentially a dare to Pelosi.
But he can only give the speech from that venue if the House and the Senate pass a resolution allowing it.
“I look forward to seeing you on the evening of January 29th in the Chamber of the House of Representatives. … 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!” Trump wrote.
After Pelosi’s announcement that the Jan. 29 address in the House was off, Trump told reporters that it is “really a shame what’s happening with the Democrats. They’ve become radicalized.”
Last week, Pelosi sent a letter to Trump suggesting that the State of the Union be delayed, citing security reasons because so many Homeland Security employees were furloughed. Trump later canceled a trip that Pelosi was scheduled to take to Afghanistan along with other Democratic lawmakers. They were set to fly on a military aircraft to visit troops there.
In his letter, Trump noted that Pelosi already invited him to deliver the State of the Union, and he accepted.
“Even prior to your asking, I was contacted by the Department of Homeland Security and the United States Secret Service to explain that there would be absolutely no problem regarding security with respect to the event,” Trump said.
The president is constitutionally obligated to deliver a State of the Union, but there is no requirement on where such a speech is delivered — or that it be a speech at all. Before the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the State of the Union was usually written.
Trump reportedly considered other options — including delivering the address from the border. But the impact of the address is probably far greater in a venue that gathers lawmakers from both parties in a joint session of Congress. The State of the Union audience traditionally includes members of the Supreme Court, “average” Americans who are singled out as the president talks about a specific policy, and just about all of the major media outlets.
He did not say whether he planned to still show up at the Capitol on Jan. 29.
“We’ll have to respond to” Pelosi’s letter, Trump said. “We’ll respond to it in a timely manner.” He said that they likely would “do something in the alternative” to an address before a joint session of Congress.