United States shutdown: Trump defies Pelosi over Congress speech

Speaker Nancy Pelosi D-Calif. leaves a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol on Jan. 23 2019. After receiving a letter from President Trump saying he was going to deliver the State of the Union address on schedule Speaker Pelosi sent

And yet Trump had capitulated hours earlier on the State of the Union. "But, the speech offers an opportunity for the president to be the center of attention and to present his agenda, claim credit for accomplishments, and frame events in any way he chooses". Lawmakers clap - or don't - and put out brief statements afterward.

If it happens, this year's State of the Union will be anything but routine, however.

In his letter, Trump referred to Pelosi's initial January 3 invitation to speak on January 29, while ignoring her Jan.16 follow-up message requesting that, given the ongoing shutdown, he either postpone the annual address or submit his remarks in writing.

After initially saying he wanted to find an alternative venue for the address, Trump announced Wednesday night that he would postpone the State of the Union until after the shutdown ends - as Pelosi had asked. The address has generally been given in person before Congress since Woodrow Wilson.

"I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. 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", Trump tweeted late Wednesday.

By negating Pelosi's logistical reasoning and pointing out that she originally invited him on January 3-already more than a week into the shutdown-Trump was daring Pelosi to admit her letter was retribution for maintaining the shutdown and officially uninvite him.

Intitially, on Wednesday, local time, Trump released a letter to Pelosi in which he declared he would deliver his speech to the House of Representatives next Tuesday as planned.

Each side has been accusing the other of pettiness since Ms Pelosi raised doubts about the speech and Mr Trump followed up by revoking her use of a military aircraft, thereby cancelling a congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan. Pelosi rescinded her invitation after the partial government shutdown began, citing security concerns she said were created by the furloughing of personnel.

Pelosi responded by insisting she would not pass a resolution authorising him to address Congress until the government had reopened.

Trump and Pelosi have traded political jabs in a week-long volley of letters sent up and down Pennsylvania Avenue as the historic government shutdown continues.

The Speaker, who is the third most powerful politician in the United States, had invited Mr Trump at the start of January to address Congress on the agreed-upon date of 29 January. "He's not necessarily a guy that's trying to unify the country", said Rep. John Larson, D-Conn.

The president reportedly respects Pelosi, seeing her as a fighter who can match his counterpuncher approach.

The speaker said House Democrats are putting together a new border security package that could provide a step toward a compromise.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of SC, the Democratic whip in charge of rounding up votes, said holding Democrats together hasn't been so great a challenge. We should also remember that elected officials and federal workers are charged to run the government, not the country.

But lawmakers also acknowledged they are in uncharted territory.

"I just think it's not a very tenable kind of thing", Connolly continued. "I could have gone to a big auditorium and gotten 25,000 people in one day and you've been there many times". On Friday, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will miss another paycheck, and polls have shown a majority of voters blame the president for the mess. But experts said it's actually a key part of the address.

"I think there are some people that actually wonder whether or not the State of the Union has become too bloated and is just full of politics", he said. "Even if he gives the address in another location or another fashion, the fact that the traditional stage is not part of the visual will be telling".

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