U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked President Donald Trump to reschedule his State of the Union remarks until an agreement on the government shutdown can be reached.
In her letter to the president, Pelosi cited security concerns as a reason for the delay. The Department of Homeland Security is one of the programs left unfunded in the standoff over a border wall that's resulted in the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. She offered the option of delivering the address as written remarks instead of as a televised address delivered to a joint session of Congress during prime time.
While the president did not respond directly to Pelosi's request, he did send her his own letter informing her he had cancelled her scheduled use of military aircraft for a trip she had planned to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan, while the government shutdown continues.
The Constitution says the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
But no date is specified and Pelosi told journalists on Thursday that the 29th is "not a sacred date. It's not constitutionally required. It's not the president's birthday. It's the date we agreed to. It could be a week later."
President Ronald Reagan postponed his 1986 address in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Carter all delivered at least one State of the Union address as a written message.
While some have accused Pelosi of stoking already fraught bipartisan relations with her request, others point at that as a speaker with a majority she now has the power — legally — to upset Trump's agenda. Pelosi has emerged as a worthy adversary and vocal critic of the President with a large base of support — and has shown her willingness to use her position for leverage as the border wall dispute continues and many thousands of government workers go unpaid.
As Elizabeth Renda from the Democratic National Committee told Refinery29, "The first thing this country needs is for Donald Trump and Republicans to end this shutdown. Trump should be focused on working with Democrats, who have already passed multiple bills to reopen the government, and find a solution that will end this. While Trump and Mitch McConnell continue to obstruct and delay progress, Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues are fighting to reopen the government and end the longest shutdown in history, which hurts families and communities across the country every day it continues."