United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would not deliver his State of the Union address until the government shutdown is over. Earlier in the day, Speaker Nancy Pelosi had withdrawn an invitation to the president to deliver the address in the House of Representatives chamber.
The address was scheduled for January 29. It is an annual address by the president in front of both chambers of the Congress.
The US federal government had shut down partially on December 22 after Democrats refused to allocate $5.7 billion in funding sought by Trump to build a wall along the US border with Mexico. This is the longest shutdown in history.
In her letter to Trump on Wednesday, Pelosi said that the invitation was sent on January 3, when there was “no thought that the government would still be shut down”. Pelosi is a leader of the Democratic Party, which controls the House of Representatives.
Hours later, Trump pledged to “do something in the alternative”, The New York Times reported. Some lawmakers said he could deliver it in the Senate, while others suggested he could do it at the border or during a rally.
However, as the day was about to end, Trump tweeted that he was “not looking for an alternative venue for the address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber”.
“As the shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address,” Trump wrote. “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.”
He wrote he was looking forward to the address “in the near future”.
Pelosi, in response, said she hoped that by saying “near future”, Trump meant he would support a proposal to end the shutdown in the Senate on Thursday. “Please accept this proposal so we can re-open government, repay our federal workers and then negotiate our differences,” she said.
The Senate leaders have agreed to vote on Thursday on two proposals that could end the month-long partial government shutdown. The Democrats need the support of at least 13 Republicans to get their bill passed. Even if that happens, the bill is unlikely to be signed by President Trump.
Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency to secure the money for the border wall. Constructing it was on Trump’s electoral agenda in the 2016 presidential campaign.