WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday he will not be able to give the State of the Union in the House chamber while the government is still shut down.
The current partial government shutdown still has no end in sight and is the longest in American history.
“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,” Pelosi said in the letter, sent Wednesday afternoon.
Her letter comes in response to one sent earlier the same day from the White House, notifying Pelosi the president still planned on giving his speech on Tuesday, Jan. 29, from the House chamber.
Citing security concerns because of the government shutdown, Pelosi wrote to Trump last week requesting that he delay the address or submit it in writing, but Trump did not acquiesce to the request.
“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 wrote in his letter Wednesday.
In his letter, Trump pointed out that Pelosi had invited him to give the address on Jan. 3, at the start of the new Congress and after the shutdown had already started. But Pelosi countered that at that time, “there was no thought that the government would still be shut down.”
The shutdown began on Saturday, Dec. 22, over funding for Trump's proposed wall between the United States and Mexico. While Democrats have long opposed it, House Republicans refused to pass a funding bill for the parts of government that are currently shut down without the funding for the wall. By the time the new Congress came back from the holidays in January with Democrats in control of the House, Senate Republicans had removed themselves from the negotiations, allowing for a back-and-forth between House Democrats and Trump.
The president could still deliver an Oval Office address or take his speech elsewhere. But his Republican colleagues in the House are pushing for him to deliver it in the chamber as planned: On Wednesday, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy signed and submitted a resolution that would allow Trump to give the speech in the chamber. Republicans have little say, however, given that they don’t control the House floor.
The president can go to the Capitol whenever he wants (and often does, for events like Senate Republican lunches or House Republican conference meetings) and is even welcome to go to the House floor at his leisure, but he must be recognized to speak in the chamber.
Asked about Pelosi's letter on Wednesday, Trump responded, "It's really a shame what's happening with the Democrats."