As shutdown lingers, Pelosi asks Trump to delay State of Union address

Pelosi holds a news conference at the US Capitol in Washington. (Reuters)

With the US government shutdown dragging into its 26th day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address - a move that could deny the president the opportunity to use the pageantry of the speech to attack Democrats in their own chamber over the impasse.

With Trump’s address set for Jan. 29, Pelosi wrote him a letter citing security concerns because the Secret Service, which is required to provide security for the address, has not received funding during the dispute.

The standoff was triggered by Trump’s demand for a round of funding for his promised wall on the US-Mexico border.

Presidents traditionally deliver the address, which lays out the administration’s goals for the upcoming year, in the House chamber before a joint session of Congress and the majority of the Cabinet.

Democrats took control of the House after last year’s congressional elections. During the shutdown, Trump has routinely blamed them for the stalemate, although he had earlier said he would take responsibility.

In comments to reporters on Wednesday, Pelosi suggested that if Trump would not agree to reschedule the speech until the government re-opens, he could deliver it from the Oval Office instead, a setting that would lack the grandeur of the congressional address.

The White House had no immediate comment on Pelosi’s request and her letter appeared to take aides by surprise. It pointed out that she had invited Trump to make the State of the Union address at the Capitol but said the shutdown complicated the situation.

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest 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,” Pelosi wrote.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:58 - GMT 06:58
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