WASHINGTON — The drama over President Donald Trump’s insistence on delivering his State of the Union address in the House chamber next Tuesday ended when he announced that he will give the speech when the shutdown ends, just as Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested.
Trump’s decision to back off of his demand — unusual in such a high-profile way — got some hopes up that it could signal some wiggle room in ending the shutdown, which has now stretched to more than a month, the longest ever.
“As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address,” Trump wrote in a tweet late on Wednesday. “I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date.”
“This is her prerogative — I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future!”
In the standoff that unfolded throughout the day on Wednesday, Trump wrote in a letter to Pelosi that he still intended to deliver the State of the Union address as scheduled, even though Pelosi had suggested it be delayed, citing security reasons because so many government workers are furloughed during the shutdown. Pelosi then wrote a letter to Trump, essentially telling him no. The president can only deliver the speech after Congress passes a resolution to allow it — and Pelosi said that she was not willing to budge.
There had been some indications that the White House was looking for alternatives on Tuesday, but another venue likely would not have had the same impact or even garner the extensive coverage of a traditional State of the Union.
Pelosi responded to Trump’s announcement, writing on Twitter, “Mr. President, I hope by saying “near future” you mean you will support the House-passed package to #EndtheShutdown that the Senate will vote on tomorrow. Please accept this proposal so we can re-open government, repay our federal workers and then negotiate our differences.”
She told reporters at a press conference on Thursday, “Thank goodness we put that matter to rest and that we can get on to the subject at hand: open the government.”