President Donald Trump has signaled he plans to deliver his nationally televised State of the Union (SOTU) address Jan. 29, but the Speaker had something to say about that.
That came in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had suggested he might want to delay the speech citing the government shutdown and security concerns.
The President pointed out that he had received a Jan. 3 invitation from the Speaker ("long after the shutdown began"), inviting him to speak and he said he planned to honor that, despite a follow-up letter expressing the security concerns.
He told her that Homeland Security and the Secret Service both said there were not security issues.
Given the lack of security concerns, he said, he would be "fulfilling his Constitutional duty to deliver important information to the people and the Congress" on the current state of the Union, which is politically divided over that shutdown and the state of Trump's presidency.
The President said 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."
There have been suggestions the President could find an alternate venue, perhaps somewhere out of town given his penchant for rallies in the heartland. One state legislator even invited him to deliver it from their State House.
Asked by reporters whether the President thinks that he can deliver the speech in the House Chamber if a joint resolution issuing him an official invitation to address Congress has not been passed, counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway said he intends to go to the Chamber and deliver the speech. She also said she hoped the Speaker would not deny seats to guests of the President and First Lady.
She said the President's letter was responding to Pelosi's "phony" claim about security, which she challenged reporters to call a "lie," a word they use frequently about the President.He said Pelosi had cancelled the speech because she was "afraid of the truth."
But there could be a shutdown showdown brewing.
Pelosi said Wednesday (Jan. 23) that she was rescinding her Jan. 3 offer, would not consider a resolution inviting him to speak, and the SOTU speech was off until the government re-opened. The President responded that the Democrats had been radicalized and the shutdown would "go on for a while."
If the President delivers a speech in some other venue, perhaps outside Washington, the TV networks will have a decision to make about whether and how to cover it.
The President said he would "do something in the alternative," but did not say what or where.