Trump Delays State of the Union Address Until Shutdown Ends

January 23, 2019 Updated: January 24, 2019

Update: U.S. President Donald Trump said in a late night Tweet on Jan. 23 that he would delay a State of the Union address until the government shutdown was over, responding to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s move to obstruct his plans for the speech.

Earlier in the day, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives floated the idea of ending the partial government shutdown by giving Trump most or all of the money he seeks for security along the Mexican border but for items other than the wall he wants.

As a shutdown that has left 800,000 federal workers without pay hit its 33rd day, Pelosi effectively disinvited Trump from delivering the annual State of the Union address in the House chamber until the government is fully opened.

Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said Democrats also would discuss “substantial sums of additional money” for border security as part of a possible deal. He did not say if it would amount to the $5.7 billion sought by Trump.

The president triggered the shutdown last month by demanding money for the wall, opposed by Democrats, as part of any legislation to fund about a quarter of the government. Clyburn’s offer would be a significant monetary increase over bills previously passed by Democrats, which included only about $1.3 billion for this year in additional border security, with none for a wall.

“Using the figure the president put on the table, if his $5.7 billion is about border security then we see ourselves fulfilling that request, only doing it with what I like to call using a smart wall,” Clyburn told reporters.

Republican Representative Tom Cole, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters the Democratic proposal could help.

“Any movement, any discussion is helpful,” Cole said. “We’ve got to get past this wall-or-no-wall debate.”

The battle over border security and government funding spilled over into a parallel dispute over the president’s State of the Union address. Trump sent a letter to Pelosi on Jan. 23 saying he looked forward to delivering it as scheduled next Jan. 22 in the House chamber. Pelosi previously had asked Trump to consider postponing it because security could not be guaranteed during the shutdown.

But Pelosi told Trump on Jan. 23 the House would not consider a measure authorizing his address until the shutdown ends. “Again, I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened,” Pelosi said to Trump in a letter.

In a sign Trump may be bracing for a long shutdown, a senior administration official said agencies without funding had been asked to give the White House a list of programs that could be hurt “within the coming weeks” if the funding lapse continues.

Pelosi and Trump Initially Agreed to Deliver The Address

President Donald Trump said in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he’ll deliver the State of the Union address as agreed upon earlier in the month.

In response, Pelosi said in a Jan. 23 letter 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” the ongoing partial government shutdown ends.

Trump said he wasn’t surprised by Pelosi’s response, telling reporters he’ll respond to her “in a timely manner.”

Pelosi previously tried to block the president from giving the speech on the House floor, an annual tradition for presidents, citing security concerns stemming from the shutdown and suggesting that he postpone until the government reopens. But agencies responsible for security stated that her concerns were unwarranted and noted she’d failed to consult them.

Trump noted in his Jan. 23 letter that Pelosi had, before requesting that he postpone the speech, invited him to make the speech.

“Thank you for your letter of Jan. 3 sent to me long after the Shutdown began, inviting me to address the Nation on January 29th as to the State of the Union,” he wrote. “As you know, I had already accepted your kind invitation, however, I then received another letter from you dated January 16, 2019, wherein you expressed concerns regarding security during the State of the Union Address due to the Shutdown.”

Trump said that the Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service had told him there would be no problem regarding security for the event. Both departments also said so publicly following the release of Pelosi’s second letter.

“Accordingly, there are no security concerns regarding the State of the Union Address,” Trump said. “Therefore, I will be honoring your invitation, and fulfilling my Constitutional duty, to deliver important information to the people and Congress of the United States of America regarding the State of the Union.”

Trump said he looked forward to seeing Pelosi on Jan. 29 in the chamber of the House of Representatives. “It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!”

Trump had last addressed the issue on Jan. 20, when he said in a post on Twitter: “Nancy, I am still thinking about the State of the Union speech, there are so many options – including doing it as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem), and my written acceptance. While a contract is a contract, I’ll get back to you soon!”

Centrist Democrats Urge Pelosi to End Shutdown

As the partial government shutdown stretched into its 32nd day, a group of centrist House Democrats called on Pelosi to end the stalemate over funding for the U.S.–Mexico border wall and to offer some sort of compromise.

Trump has made several attempts at striking a bargain. On Jan. 19, he outlined an offer that included temporary protection from deportation to some 700,000 illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children who are covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and to people from certain nations who qualify for Temporary Protected Status, which lets people from certain countries stay in the United States if they left their homes to escape wars, disasters, or “other extraordinary and temporary conditions.” In exchange, he wants $5.7 billion in border wall funding.

Trump’s proposal, outlined in a televised address, was rejected by Pelosi before he started to speak.

Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), who is leading the group of centrist Democrats, urged Pelosi to offer Trump a vote on the border wall funding sometime in February if he ends up signing a bill to reopen the federal government.

Nancy Pelosi speaks
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Jan. 17, 2019. (Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo/)

“We know that you share our value that effective governing should not result in winners and losers, but that our job as legislators is to do the most good for the most people,” the letter (pdf) obtained by Politico stated.

“We understand that this shutdown was not caused by the 116th Congress, but it is our job to fix it,” it also stated.

Both Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have said they would not negotiate with Trump over border wall funding until he reopens the government. They said they would be open to talks after he has done so.

Update: The article was updated with responses from Rep. Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump.

Epoch Times reporters Bowen Xiao and Petr Svab, and Reuters contributed to this report.

From NTD News

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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