Trump moves forward with State of the Union plans despite Pelosi’s request to postpone it
President Donald Trump is forging ahead with plans to deliver a State of the Union-style speech at the U.S. Capitol at the end of January in spite of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request that he postpone it, a senior administration official told NBC News Tuesday.
Pelosi, D-Calif., holds leverage in whether a joint session of Congress can be called. The Democratic leader, who is locked in tense and seemingly frozen negotiations with Trump over dueling border security proposals, has suggested Trump postpone the speech while the government is partially shut down.
Trump has nevertheless begun laying plans for his State of the Union address, which Pelosi had previously scheduled for Jan. 29. “She invited, we accepted,” a White House official told NBC.
The White House sent a note to the sergeant-at-arms over the weekend requesting that a walk-through occur sometime this week, NBC reported. The sergeant-at-arms is tasked with leading a presidential processional toward the podium of the House chamber at the beginning of a State of the Union address.
The shutdown of about a quarter of the government, which comprises nine federal agencies, stretched into its 32nd day Tuesday, making it by far the longest shutdown on record. Trump demands that any funding deal to reopen the government include more than $5 billion for a “steel barrier” along the U.S.-Mexico border, which the Office of Management and Budget estimates will fund the construction of about 234 miles of the nearly 2,000-mile border.
Pelosi and other Democratic negotiators, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, say they will not accept any deal that includes border wall funding. Their position is to open the government and then negotiate on border security.
Pelosi wrote a letter to Trump last week urging him to either reschedule his State of the Union address or deliver it in writing to Congress. In that letter, she cited “security concerns” arising from the lapse in funding for some agencies — a claim later rebuffed by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a tweet.
A day after Pelosi’s letter was made public, Trump flexed his presidential authority by postponing an overseas trip for which Pelosi and other members of Congress were about to depart. Trump, too, cited the ongoing government shutdown as his reason for postponing Pelosi’s travel plans.
Trump’s team made an offer Saturday to reopen the government. It includes the full $5.7 billion he wants in wall funding, along with more border patrol agents, immigration judges and drug-finding technology at ports of entry.
The proposal also includes several measures intended as olive branches for Democrats, including extending legal protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children for three years, along with billions of dollars in disaster relief funding.
A Senate bill that reflects this offer is widely expected to fail when it is taken up for a vote, which is planned for later this week. Pelosi has already rejected the deal.