Pelosi Asks Trump to Provide State of the Union Address to Congress in Writing or Postpone Speech

By Craig Bannister | January 16, 2019 | 11:01am EST
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the Capitol, Jan. 16, 2019. (Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)

( - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to submit his State of the Union address to Congress in writing, instead of via the traditional speech--or to postpone his speech until after the partial government shutdown ends.

Pelosi had previously invited the president to deliver a speech to Congress on January 29th. Now, Pelosi writes, she would like him to provide the address in written form, if he’s not willing to postpone his public address until after the budget battle over border wall funding is resolved.

Pelosi notes that, “up until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, these annual State of the Union messages were delivered to Congress in writing.”

Speaker Pelosi stopped short of rescinding Trump’s invitation to speak on January 29th. Instead, she wrote, “I suggest” that a new date be set, “unless the government re-opens this week,” if he’s not willing to provide a written document to Congress.

Pelosi’s letter to the president is provided below and is posted online by Speaker Pelosi here.

On January 3rd, it was my privilege as Speaker to invite you to deliver the State of the Union address on January 29th. The Constitution calls for the President to “from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.” During the 19the Century, and up until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, these annual State of the Union messages were delivered to Congress in writing. And since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown.

In September 2018, Secretary Nielsen designated State of the Union Addresses as National Special Security Events (NSSEs), recognizing the need for “the full resources of the Federal Government to be brought to bear” to ensure the security of these events. The extraordinary demands presented by NSSEs require weeks of detailed planning with dozens of agencies working together to prepare for the safety of all participants.

The U.S. Secret Services was designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising and implementing security for National Special Security Events by Public Law 106--544, December 19, 2000. However, both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now – with criminal departments hamstrung by furloughs.

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.

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