Trump to postpone State of the Union address until after shutdown

Nancy Pelosi tells US president authorisation delayed until government reopens

An estimated 800,000 federal employees haven’t been paid since the government shutdown began. Those working for the IRS and other agencies are being ordered to return to work during the shutdown. Video: The New York Times


US president Donald Trump will postpone his State of the Union address until the partial government shutdown ends.

Following a high-stakes game of dare and double-dare with speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mr Trump conceded that “no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber” and that he was not looking for an alternate option.

Tensions between Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi intensified on Wednesday as the House speaker refused authorisation for the US president to deliver the annual State of the Union address next week in Congress.

In the latest tit-for-tat between the two leaders, Mr Trump wrote to Ms Pelosi on Wednesday stating that he intended to deliver the annual speech on January 29th as planned, despite her having raised security concerns in a letter last week calling for him to postpone the speech.

For more infographics see

The president said he had been contacted by the secret service and the department of homeland security who explained “there would be absolutely no problem regarding security for 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 our Union,” the president wrote.

“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 an hour later, Ms Pelosi responded, informing the president that the House of Representatives would not consider a concurrent resolution authorising the address until the government was reopened.

“Again I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has reopened,” she wrote.

Speaking moments after the letter was released, Mr Trump said: “I’m not surprised. It’s really a shame with what’s happening with the Democrats. They’ve become radicalised.”

He continued: “This will go on for a while. Ultimately the American people will have their way because they don’t want to see crime.”

The State of the Union address is a centrepiece of the presidential calendar, an opportunity for the president to set out his policy priorities to a joint session of the Houses of Congress and the nation.

The White House was said to be considering a venue outside the US Capitol for the address next Tuesday.

But it is now unclear if and when the address will go ahead. The US House and Senate must by law pass a concurrent resolution to authorise it.

Last week Mr Trump cancelled a planned congressional trip to Afghanistan by Ms Pelosi and a congressional delegation just minutes before they were due to leave Washington.

The latest twist in the increasingly acrimonious relationship unfolded as the government shutdown entered its 33rd day.

Competing Bills

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to put two competing Bills to the Senate floor on Thursday in a bid to end the government shutdown.

However, it is unclear if either Bill will reach the 60-vote threshold needed to pass the 100-member chamber.

One Bill is based on Mr Trump’s proposal outlined at the weekend which includes an offer to extend protection for Dreamers – young people who were brought to the US as children – and other categories of immigrants.

Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, has denied Trump permission to give his State-of-the-Union speech at Congress during the shutdown. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, has denied Trump permission to give his State-of-the-Union speech at Congress during the shutdown. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The other, a Democrat-devised Bill, is a proposal that would fund the government until February 8th but does not include the $5.7 billion in border wall funding demanded by the president.

Hundreds of federal workers are expected to again miss their paycheques next Friday, two weeks after they missed their first paycheque of the new year.

‘Threats from Trump’

Meanwhile, Mr Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen indefinitely postponed his appearance before the House oversight committee, which had been scheduled for February 7th, because of threats against his family, his lawyer said.

Lanny Davis, the attorney representing Mr Trump’s long-time lawyer, said that his client had received “ongoing threats against his family from Trump” and Mr Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

“This is a time where Mr Cohen had to put his family and their safety first.”

Asked about the comments, Mr Trump replied:

“I would say he’s been threatened by the truth ... He doesn’t want to tell the truth for me or other of his clients.”