President Donald Trump said he would go forward with his State of the Union address despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request to delay it until the resolution of the partial government shutdown. Pelosi responded that she wouldn’t take the steps to authorize the address in the House chamber until the government is open.
In a letter to the California Democrat on Wednesday, the president dismissed Pelosi’s stated concerns about security in the wake of the lapse in appropriations and said he would go forward with the address at the Capitol as planned.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) subsequently introduced a resolution Wednesday to hold the State of the Union address on Jan. 29, in the absence of Pelosi doing so.
But Pelosi responded within hours, saying she would not bring the resolution to a vote.
“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 wrote in a letter to Trump.
Trump reacted angrily to Pelosi’s response, calling it “a great blotch on the incredible country that we all love” and accusing Democrats of becoming “radicalized.” He also claimed Pelosi was “afraid of the truth.”
But the president also appeared to walk back his earlier insistence of doing the speech at the Capitol, saying he would “do something in the alternative.” He wouldn’t immediately say more on his plans.
“We will have a response to Nancy Pelosi in due course,” Trump said, according to CBS White House correspondent Mark Knoller.
Pelosi, who was elected House speaker this month after Democrats won control of the chamber, extended the traditional invitation to Trump on Jan. 3 to deliver a State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress. Last week, she asked the president to delay the speech or to deliver it in written form, citing security concerns due to the government shutdown.
As House speaker, Pelosi can dictate whether a resolution to convene a joint session comes up for a vote in the House. Without a joint session, the president wouldn’t be able to deliver his address on the House floor.
The president can technically enter the House chamber at any time, but as McClatchy reporter Emma Dumain noted, there might not be anyone else there, and C-SPAN wouldn’t be present to broadcast the address to the American public.
Pelosi’s request last week to postpone the speech sparked heated debate between the president and congressional Democrats, as well as speculation about how Trump might respond.
Despite several reports this week that the president was considering delivering the address at an alternate location, or even turning it into a rally, it quickly became apparent Trump planned to move forward with an address at the Capitol as planned.
In his letter on Wednesday, the president noted that Pelosi’s original invitation to deliver the speech came two weeks after the start of the shutdown, which began on Dec. 22. Pelosi responded that, at the time, “there was no thought that the government would still be shut down” by the end of the month.
Trump also said he had received word from the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Secret Service that security wouldn’t be an issue at the event.
“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 wrote.
The president said he looked forward to seeing the House speaker for the address on Jan. 29, writing, “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!”
But Pelosi said she would welcome Trump to the Capitol “on a mutually agreeable date for this address when the government has opened.”
This story has been updated with additional background information and Pelosi’s response, as well as Trump’s reaction to her response.