WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is standing firm that President Donald Trump will not be allowed to give the State of the Union address in the House chamber next week – unless 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,” the California Democrat wrote Wednesday in a letter to Trump
Pelosi’s letter is the latest salvo over the State of the Union and followed Trump’s letter to her earlier in the day saying he wanted to give the speech in the Capitol Tuesday.
“There are no security concerns regarding the State of the Union address,” Trump wrote in a letter to Pelosi. “Therefore, I will be honoring your invitation and fulfilling my constitutional duty to deliver important information to the people and Congress.”
At the White House, upon being told that Pelosi had rejected his request, Trump replied: “I’m not surprised. It’s really a shame what’s happening with the Democrats. They’ve become radicalized.They don’t want to see crime stop, which we can very easily do on the Southern border. … This will go on for a while.”
Trump said he would respond to Pelosi “in a timely manner.”
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Last month, Pelosi invited Trump to give the annual address on Jan. 29. But last week, she suggested that Trump postpone, cancel or submit the address in writing because of the ongoing partial government shutdown, though she had not formally rescinded the invitation.
The White House said it was moving forward with speech plans anyway, and is looking at alternatives in case Pelosi formally cancels her invitation.
“The president will talk to the American people on January 29th as he does nearly every single day,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Fox News Wednesday. “And we’re going to continue moving forward with the State of the Union and we’ll see what happens.”
While planning to speak in the House chamber – the administration has requested a formal walk-through before the ceremony – Trump and aides have explored alternative venues, including cities around the country.
Republican officials in Michigan and North Carolina have invited Trump to give his speech in their states.
Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have suggested that Trump look at speaking in the Senate chamber, which is controlled by a GOP majority.
The White House itself is another option.
“We always like to have a Plan B, but the president should be able to address the American people,” Sanders told Fox, “whether he does that from the halls of Congress or whether he does that in another location.”