The White House announced Tuesday that it plans on moving forward with the State of the Union address, and is requesting information on security plans and costs not just from the United States Capitol, but from other, undisclosed locations outside Washington D.C.
Fox News reports that the White House “is still planning to move ahead with next week’s scheduled State of the Union address,” but that “details are up in the air” since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) rescinded her invitation to have the president deliver the speech to a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives.
The president is tentatively scheduled to deliver the speech on January 29, but no official date has been set on the Congressional calendar — a resolution, passed through the House and Senate, is required to officially schedule the joint session.
But in a letter addressed the president, Pelosi declined to set a date for the speech, claiming that the partial government shutdown had reduced the Capitol police force and the Secret Service to a skeleton crew, making it impossible to guarantee the president’s safety and security — and the safety and security of so many legislators — during the ongoing impasse over the federal budget.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the 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 Congress on January 29,” Pelosi said.
In response, the White House apparently moved ahead with plans for the State of the Union speech, regardless of Pelosi’s cooperation.
“Fox News has learned that the White House sent a letter to the House Sergeant at Arms asking to schedule a walk-through for next week’s planned address,” the outlet reported. “This comes after a previously scheduled walk-through last week was canceled at Pelosi’s request.”
An official with the White House says they are treating Pelosi’s letter almost as a negotiation tactic. “She invited us. We accepted,” the official told CNN. “She cited security concerns. (The Department of Homeland Security) responded to those. And we are moving forward.”
Trump also tweeted late Sunday that he’s “thinking” about the subject of where to hold his annual address. “Nancy, I am still thinking about the State of the Union speech, there are so many options – including doing it as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem), and my written acceptance. While a contract is a contract, I’ll get back to you soon!” he wrote on social media.
The White House added that it has a two track plan: on one hand, it could deliver the speech, as per tradition, in the House chambers. On the other hand, it could simply issue a “State of the Union” in writing directly to Congress and choose to hold the speech elsewhere. Right now, the plan seems to be to hold the speech somewhere outside of Washington, D.C., presumably at a rally or, even, perhaps, at the border.
CNN reports that Trump and Pelosi remain “at odds,” and that neither is likely to give in on the issue before next Tuesday — and neither plans on affording the other the victory of ending the government shutdown.