Monday 15 July 2019

State of the Union speech shelved after Trump banned from Congress

All about the timing: Nancy Pelosi, who has stopped Donald Trump’s speech to Congress, leaves a Capitol Hill meeting. Photo: Getty Images
All about the timing: Nancy Pelosi, who has stopped Donald Trump’s speech to Congress, leaves a Capitol Hill meeting. Photo: Getty Images

Nick Allen

Donald Trump has been barred from delivering the annual presidential State of the Union address in its traditional location, the chamber of the House of Representatives.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Speaker of the House, announced the US president was not welcome for the planned major speech next Tuesday, January 29.

She said he would not be welcome until the US government was reopened.

The government has been partially shut down for over a month due to a row between Mr Trump and Democrats over funding for his proposed border wall.

The latest escalation put relations between America's legislative and executive branches in uncharted territory.

Mr Trump said Ms Pelosi had "cancelled" the State of the Union and the decision was a "great blotch" on the country, and a "negative part of history". He added that it was a "disgrace".

For the State of the Union speech, both houses of the legislature cram into the House chamber for an annual update from the president.

The event is a convention, rather than having written-down rules.

The US Constitution states only that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union".

It does not specify the location, or preclude the president from giving his update in writing.

The president cannot speak in front of a joint session of Congress without explicit permission from both chambers.

A resolution needs to be approved by both chambers specifying the date and time.

But Ms Pelosi said the Democrat-controlled House would not authorise such a resolution at this time.

The traditional invitation to the president had gone out before the shutdown began.

Last week, Ms Pelosi suggested the high-profile event be suspended due to security concerns stemming from the shutdown.

However, yesterday Mr Trump wrote to the speaker formally accepting the original invitation to speak on January 29.

Mr Trump said he had consulted with the Secret Service and they would have "no problem" keeping him safe.

The president wrote to Ms Pelosi: "Therefore, I will be honouring your invitation, and fulfilling my Constitutional duty to the people and Congress regarding the State of our Union.

"It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!"

In a quick written response, Ms Pelosi said the House would not authorise the resolution allowing Mr Trump into the chamber.

She wrote: "I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened."

Immediately after that, Mr Trump said: "I'm not surprised. It's really a shame what's happening with the Democrats. They've become radicalised.

"The State of the Union has been cancelled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn't want to hear the truth.

"She's afraid of the super-left Democrats, the radical Democrats. What's going on in that party is shocking. She doesn't want to know the truth. I think that's a great blotch on the great country we all love."

In recent days White House officials have been working on a back-up plan to give the speech somewhere else.

Officials have been considering a list of potential alternative venues, including a rally-style event, an Oval Office address - as Ms Pelosi previously suggested, a speech before the Senate chamber, and even a return visit to the US-Mexico border as Mr Trump is expected to continue to hammer the need for a barrier, according to two others familiar with the discussions. Multiple versions are being drafted to suit the final venue.

North Carolina's House Speaker Tim Moore wrote a letter inviting Mr Trump to deliver the speech in the North Carolina House chamber. And Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield invited Mr Trump to deliver the address at the state Capitol in Lansing instead.

Kellyanne Conway, Mr Trump's counsellor, had said it would be "remarkably petty" for Ms Pelosi to deny Mr Trump entry to the House.

In what is becoming a deeply personal stand-off Mr Trump recently revoked Ms Pelosi's use of a military aircraft, thereby cancelling her visit to meet troops in Afghanistan. (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent

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