President Donald Trump has changed his mind: He will wait until “the Shutdown is over” to give the State of the Union address.
In a pair of late-night tweets on Wednesday, Trump explained that the House Chamber was the only appropriate place for the address, abandoning the search for an “alternative” location that he teased to reporters earlier in the day.
“As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative – I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an….” Trump’s first tweet read.
In a second tweet, Trump said there’s “no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a ‘great’ State of the Union Address in the near future!”
“Mr. President, I hope by saying ‘near future’ you mean you will support the House-passed package to #EndTheShutdown that the Senate will vote on tomorrow,” Pelosi tweeted. “Please accept this proposal so we can re-open government, repay our federal workers and then negotiate our differences.”
Hours earlier, Trump had told reporters that it would be “sad” that he wouldn’t be making the speech in the “beautiful” Capitol building and added, “We’ll do something in the alternative.”
That announcement followed another round of salvos between him and House Speaker Pelosi over the annual address.
As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative – I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2019
“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,” the California Democrat wrote Wednesday in a letter to Trump.
Earlier in the day, Trump had written Pelosi a letter saying he wanted to give the speech in the Capitol Tuesday, brushing aside her concerns about security and the government shutdown.
“There are no security concerns regarding the State of the Union address,” Trump wrote. “Therefore, I will be honoring your invitation and fulfilling my constitutional duty to deliver important information to the people and Congress.”
He added: “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!”
At the White House, upon being told that Pelosi had rejected his request, Trump replied: “I’m not surprised. It’s really a shame what’s happening with the Democrats. They’ve become radicalized.They don’t want to see crime stop, which we can very easily do on the Southern border. … This will go on for a while.”
Last month, Pelosi invited Trump to give the annual address on Jan. 29. For that to happen, however, the House would have to pass a resolution formally setting the date and time of the address. Pelosi has not asked the House to consider such a resolution.
Last week, she suggested that Trump postpone, cancel or submit the address in writing because of the ongoing partial government shutdown, though she had not formally rescinded the invitation.
The White House said it was moving forward with speech plans anyway and was looking at alternatives in case Pelosi formally canceled her invitation.
“The president will talk to the American people on January 29th as he does nearly every single day,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Fox News Wednesday. “And we’re going to continue moving forward with the State of the Union and we’ll see what happens.”
.@SpeakerPelosi's petty obstruction knows no bounds. @POTUS ought to uphold tradition & deliver his #SOTU in front of Congress. Last week, I wrote to @VP requesting he & @senatemajldr invite the President to deliver his speech in the Senate Chamber, if the House is not an option. pic.twitter.com/cbOg478r4f
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) January 23, 2019
Though he had been planning to speak in the House chamber – the administration has requested a formal security walk-through before the ceremony – Trump and aides have explored alternative venues, including cities around the country.
Republican officials in Michigan and North Carolina have invited Trump to give his speech in their states.
Meanwhile, a handful of House Republicans, led by Indiana Rep. Jim Banks, have urged Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to invite Trump to deliver the address from the Senate.
“In the spirit of the Constitution, and for the good of the Republic, we must not allow partisan politics to disrupt time honored Constitutional traditions,” they wrote in a letter.
Their letter, sent last week, also said House Democrats should be at the bottom of the priority for getting seats in the smaller Senate chambers, if Trump does choose that venue.
Banks had not received a response to the letter as of Wednesday.
The White House itself could have been another option.
“We always like to have a Plan B, but the president should be able to address the American people,” Sanders told Fox, “whether he does that from the halls of Congress or whether he does that in another location.”
Source: David Jackson and Michael Collins, USA TODAY
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