If you thought the will they/won't they trope made for some exhausting television, it's nothing compared to the will he/ won't he of President Donald Trump's upcoming State of the Union. The yearly address has been in limbo while the government remains in a partial shutdown, but there's finally a hard line on it. Donald Trump's State of the Union will be postponed until after the shutdown, according to tweets from the president — so that's settled.
Trump's State of the Union address was originally scheduled for Jan. 29. But with the government still in a partial shutdown, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to the president on Jan. 23 that the House will not authorize his State of the Union until the shutdown is over — which blocks Trump from giving his address to a joint session of Congress, given that both the House and the Senate need to agree on a date and time for the State of the Union to take place. Following Pelosi's letter, on Wednesday night Trump confirmed through a series of tweets that he will wait to deliver his address until the government is back in business. He wrote,
As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. 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.
There was some speculation that the president would look around for another venue for his address. Hours before his Jan. 23 tweets, Trump told reporters that the House floor was no longer an option but he'd look for something else, according to USA Today. "We'll do something in the alternative," he said.
But it looks like Trump decided against shopping around. In his Jan. 23 tweets, Trump added that he's "not looking" for an alternate location because nothing can "compete" with the House floor. He wrote,
I am not looking for an alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber. I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future!
Elite Daily reached out to the White House for further comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Honestly, it's great to see that a decision about whether or not to postpone the State of the Union has finally been made because watching it ping-pong over the last few days has been exhausting. The seed to delay the address was first planted when Pelosi sent a letter to Trump on Jan. 16 requesting that he delay his speech if the shutdown didn't end that week. Pelosi's reasoning, as laid out in the letter, cited security concerns surrounding the fact that federal employees of the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been furloughed or are working without pay, so it might not be the best idea to overwork them with having to keep the entirety of the U.S. government safe during the State of the Union address. While Pelosi didn't explicitly take the traditional address off the table, she gave Trump the option to reschedule or deliver his address in writing to Congress on Jan. 29. She wrote,
The extraordinary demands presented by NSSEs [National Special Security Events] require weeks of detailed planning with dozens of agencies working together to prepare for the safety of all participants. ... Sadly, given the security concerns and unless 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 the Congress on January 29th.
The U.S. Secret Service referred Elite Daily's questions at the time to DHS, which did not immediately return Elite Daily's requests for comment.
Following Pelosi's letter, Trump did not immediately comment on what his plans were for the address and whether he would heed Pelosi's advice. Instead, Trump wrote a letter of his own to Pelosi dated Jan. 17 informing he had "postponed" her scheduled trip abroad due to the shutdown. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for further comment on the letter, but did not immediately hear back. Fast forward another few days, and things start getting wild fast. On Jan. 23, a flurry of letters rapidly brought things to a head, starting when the president sent Pelosi another letter essentially doubling down and telling the speaker that he would be in the House to deliver his speech, shutdown or no shutdown. He 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!"
In turn, Pelosi shut down that very idea, pointing out in yet another letter a few hours later that the president couldn't speak without her express authorization, and she wasn't giving it. "The House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened," she wrote.
Elite Daily reached out to both the White House and representatives of Pelosi for comment on the matter, but did not immediately hear back.
For a while there it looked like Pelosi and Trump were going to keep having separate conversations on the State of the Union, and we would all have to keep guessing. If nothing else, it's good they're finally on the same page.