WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi, citing security constraints from the ongoing government shutdown, has asked President Trump to reschedule his Jan. 29 State of the Union address or deliver it to Congress in writing unless the government reopens this week.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29,” she said in a letter on Wednesday.
Neither the White House nor the Secret Service had an immediate comment on Ms. Pelosi’s letter.
With the leadership of all three branches of government gathered in one place, the State of the Union is one of the highest-stakes events for federal law enforcement each year, requiring weeks of preparation. The Secret Service, the lead agency coordinating security for it, is among the agencies affected by the shutdown.
“Both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now — with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs,” Ms. Pelosi wrote.
But rescheduling would have other benefits, too.
With Democrats and Mr. Trump at an impasse over his demands for funding for a wall along the southern border, the speech would give Mr. Trump a nationally televised bully pulpit to hammer away at Ms. Pelosi and her party.
The Constitution says the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.” But what is now a speech to a joint session of Congress in the Capitol has taken different forms over the years, including in writing for much of the 19th century. The House speaker typically arranges the address by invitation, though its date is the subject of mutual agreement with the White House.
In her letter, Ms. Pelosi said there was no precedent for holding a State of the Union address during a government shutdown.