The ongoing battle over what is usually a mundane process is unfolding as little progress is being made toward ending the partial shutdown that began Dec. 22. The Senate on Tuesday teed up votes for later this week on dueling measures to reopen shuttered federal agencies, although neither bill is expected to advance.
President Donald Trump is preparing two versions of the speech – one that could be delivered in Washington and another that would be held somewhere else in the country, depending on the circumstance, according to a senior White House official. Meanwhile, the administration is trying to conduct advance work to prepare for an address in the House chamber, originally scheduled for Jan. 29, even though Pelosi has the power to determine whether Trump can do so.
The White House is forging ahead with State of the Union preparations despite no commitment from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to hold the annual address at the Capitol, further escalating the political tit-for-tat between the two leaders as the federal government remains partially shuttered.
“Nancy Pelosi does not dictate to the president when he will or will not have a conversation with the American people,” a White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, said Tuesday to media. “The President has an incredible story to tell about how far we’ve come in this country economically, in a national security capacity.”
Gidley accused Pelosi of “trying to play politics with that venue.”
Last week, the House speaker sent a letter to Trump, requesting he postpone the State of the Union, citing security concerns related to the impact of the budget impasse on the Homeland Security Department. Postponing or canceling the address during the shutdown standoff would also deny Trump the pomp and circumstance of the annual event where president’s lay out their agenda for the coming year before a national audience.