These days it seems that part of our civic duty is worrying about whether or not the annual (and traditional) State of the Union address will actually take place, given that our government is closed for business — partially. President Donald Trump is still at a standstill with the Democrats over funding for his border wall and in the balance is a State of the Union address that's scheduled for Jan. 29. Will the State of the Union be canceled? TBH, everything is kind of up in the air.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi invited Trump on Jan. 3 to give his State of the Union address on Jan. 29 before Congress, thinking that the government shutdown would be over by then. But on Jan. 23, with the government still in a partial shutdown, Pelosi sent a letter to the president stating that the House of Representatives will not authorize Trump's State of the Union until the government opens. In order for Trump to give his speech, both the House and the Senate have to agree on the date and time for them to receive the address. With the House no longer on board, Trump won't be able to give his address to a joint session in Congress. She wrote,
I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President's State of the Union address in the House Chamber until the government has opened.
For his part, the president seems to be doubling down. On the afternoon of Jan. 23, he told reporters that he had given up on delivering his address on the House floor, and instead would be looking for another location, per USA Today. "We'll do something in the alternative," he said.
Elite Daily reached out to the White House and representatives of Pelosi for comment on the situation but did not immediately hear back.
The drama around the State of the Union has been going on for a few days. On Jan. 16, some three weeks into the government shutdown, Pelosi sent a letter to Trump asking that he delay his speech "unless the government re-opens this week." She cited security concerns stemming from the fact that employees of the U.S. Secret Service, as well as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), have been furloughed or are working without pay, stretching their capabilities to provide security for, oh, the whole U.S. government as gathered during the State of the Union address. Pelosi offered the president 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.
Trump himself did not respond directly to Pelosi's request, but sent a letter of his own on on Jan. 17 letting Pelosi know that her scheduled trip abroad "has been postponed" due to the government shutdown. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for further comment on the letter, but did not immediately hear back.
Judging by Pelosi's letters, it looks like the House doesn't plan on giving Trump a venue for his State of the Union until the government has reopened, but that doesn't mean that the president still can't deliver a speech on Jan. 29 — which he might do. According to TIME, the White House is floating the idea of a rally as a backup venue for Trump to deliver his State of the Union address. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment on whether the president might host a rally as a back-up option, but did not immediately hear back.
At this point it can go either way. The government can put the "open for business" sign back up and Trump can possibly deliver his speech as planned on the House floor on Jan. 29, or the shutdown can continue and there's a SOTU/MAGA mashup rally in our future.