Democratic leaders in the House have determined the president’s State of the Union address should be postponed until the federal government is reopened.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wrote a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday informing him there will be no State of the Union address so long as the partial government shutdown remains in effect, according to Vox.
Citing security concerns, Pelosi suggested rescheduling the address, which is currently slated for January 29, or offered that Trump could deliver his speech in writing.
Trump and Congress have been at an impasse for weeks over his refusal to sign a government funding bill unless it includes $5.7 billion for the construction of some 200 miles of wall at the US-Mexico border, and Pelosi said she’s looking to reschedule Trump’s speech once that issue is settled and the government is back up and running.
The State of the Union address, since the start of modern budgeting in 1977, has never been delivered during a shutdown, Pelosi said. And during the 19th century and through Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, it was actually delivered in writing.
Pelosi cited security concerns as a primary factor in the decision:
She pointed out that in September 2018, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen designated State of the Union addresses as “national special security events” (NSSEs) that need “the full resources of the Federal Government to be brought to bear” for the sake of safety and security.
“The extraordinary demands presented by NSSEs require weeks of detailed planning with dozens of agencies working together to prepare for the safety of all participants,” Pelosi wrote.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the number two House Democrat, also declared the president’s address canceled, according to Reuters:
“The State of the Union is off,” U.S. Representative Steny Hoyer said in an interview with CNN. Hoyer said that as Speaker of the House, U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi is the one who invites the president and she has said, “as long as government is shut down we are not going to be doing business as usual.”