President Donald Trump late Wednesday declared he wouldn’t maintain a State of the Union address until following the government shutdown, currently in its fifth week, is over.
The statement created shortly after 11 p.m. seemingly puts to rest a dispute between the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., over if the address would be held.
Pelosi said in a letter earlier Wednesday the Democratic-controlled House “doesn’t consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the president’s State of the Union speech in the House chamber prior to the government has opened.”
Trump said on Twitter: “Since the Shutdown was moving on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed. She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, indicating a later date. That is her prerogative – I’ll do the Address when the Shutdown is over.”
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. I am not looking for an….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 24, 2019
The president isn’t permitted to speak in the room, the traditional spot for your State of the Union address unless the House and Senate pass a resolution allowing him to do so.
Pelosi reacted on Twitter to Trump on Wednesday night by inviting him to support an attempt to finish the shutdown.
“Mr. President, I hope by saying ‘future’ you mean that you will encourage the House-passed bundle to #EndTheShutdown that the Senate will vote on tomorrow,” Pelosi wrote. “Please take this proposal so we can re-open the government, repay our federal employees and negotiate our differences.”
The Senate is scheduled to vote Thursday on two rival bills that aim to re-open the national government, one that includes financing for a boundary wall and a Democratic short-term paying bill which excludes border wall financing.
Pelosi had originally invited Trump to provide the address later this month, but she sent him a letter last week asking him to delay his remarks or submit them in writing. She cited concerns over security due to the partial government shutdown, which affects the Department of Homeland Security.
The government has been partly closed down since Dec. 22, in a dispute over Trump’s demand that Congress provide $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
An estimated 800,000 federal employees are affected, furloughed or working without pay for the time being. Congress passed a bill that guarantees back cover for national workers once the shutdown ends and Trump signed it. But an estimated 1.2 million people who’d been working on government contracts are not getting paid either and the builders are not very likely to return pay when the impasse eventually ends.