Will the annual State of the Union address be the latest casualty from the partial government shutdown?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday, in which she suggested a postponement until after the shutdown is over. The speech, which the president would deliver to a joint session of Congress and a national broadcast audience, was originally scheduled for Jan. 29.
The shutdown is now in its 26th day and is the longest in history. It affects nine government departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, of which the Secret Service is a component. Secret Service agents and other federal law enforcement officers have been working without pay since the shutdown began last month.
Pelosi wrote, “The U.S. Secret Service was designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for National Special Security Events.” She added, “However, both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now — with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.”
Pelosi continued, “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th.”
The White House has not yet responded to Pelosi’s letter.
Working together has not been a simple or productive exercise between congressional Democratic leaders and the president. Trump has not backed down from his insistence that any bill to fund government include $5.7 billion for a border wall and Democrats’ continued opposition.
Trump walked out of the last meeting he had with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. There was not one Democrat who attended a meeting between Trump and rank-and-file lawmakers at the White House on Tuesday.
Presidents traditionally deliver their State of the Union messages at the invitation of the House speaker, although as Pelosi noted in her letter, it wasn’t until the Wilson administration that they actually gave the speeches in person.