Only a day after she was voted in as the new Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Trump asking him to appear on January 29 to deliver the annual State of the Union address to both houses of Congress. But now, nearly four weeks into a government shutdown and in the middle of a negotiation standstill on the subject of border wall funding, Pelosi is having second thoughts.
She sent a second message to President Trump on Wednesday, asking him to delay his address until after the shutdown concludes…or to take the extraordinary step of submitting the address in writing.
“On January 3rd, it was my privilege as Speaker to invite you to deliver the State of the Union address on January 29. The Constitution calls for the President ‘from time to time give the Congress Information of the State of the Union,” Pelosi wrote. “Since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29,” she continued.
Ah, security concerns. Mmmhhm.
“The U.S. Secret Service was designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for National Special Security Events,” Pelosi wrote. “However, both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now –with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.”
As House Speaker, Pelosi basically has the last word on whether or not President Trump will be invited to give his SOTU address, but it’s worth noting that while she strongly suggested delaying the speech, she did not formally cancel it. So as of right now, the ball is in President Trump’s court.
We have to assume that Pelosi’s security concerns are based in some semblance of truth, but we highly doubt that’s the real reason she wrote this letter. Whatever relationship the Democrats in Congress had with Trump two weeks ago, it has deteriorated considerably since then. Both sides are playing hardball, and this is just another splitter over the outside of the plate. Point blank, Pelosi is scared to give Trump an hour of prime time television with which to make his case to the American people.
If we were advising Trump, we’d tell him to agree to delay/cancel the speech. Then we’d have him go right out in front of Capitol Hill and deliver a one-hour speech to the American people on the date originally set aside for the State of the Union. More people would watch than ever, and Trump wouldn’t have to deal with frowny-face Democrats ruining his applause lines.
Want to play hardball, Nancy? You have no idea who you’re dealing with.