WASHINGTON – In the latest fallout from the ongoing partial government shutdown, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is asking President Donald Trump to either reschedule his State of the Union address or deliver it writing.
Putting off the annual address would be a way to punish President Trump for the shutdown and take away his powerful platform to make the case for a southern border wall.
"On January 3rd, it was my privilege as Speaker to invite you to deliver the State of the Union address on January 29. The Constitution calls for the President 'from time to time give the Congress Information of the State of the Union," the California Democrat wrote in a letter to Trump, noting that "since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown."
"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," she said.
Pelosi went on to note how critical agencies like the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have been affected by the shutdown.
"The US Secret Service was designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for National Special Security Events…" Pelosi wrote. "However, 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."
But Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen says security isn't going to be an issue.
"The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union. We thank the Service for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland," she tweeted.
The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union. We thank the Service for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) January 16, 2019
House Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy says Pelosi's move is "unbecoming of a speaker."
The news comes as the partial government shutdown drags into its fourth week amid a stalemate between the president and Democrats over building a border wall along America's southern border. So far, Trump has made it clear that the blame for the standoff lies squarely at the feet of Democratic leadership.
"Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border," Trump declared in a tweet last week. "I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion! I have been there numerous times - The Democrats, Cryin' Chuck and Nancy don't know how bad and dangerous it is for our ENTIRE COUNTRY..."
A group of bipartisan House lawmakers met with the president Wednesday to discuss border security, but with little success.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration now has essentially doubled its estimate on how much the shutdown could hurt the economy.
Heritage Foundation economist and former Trump campaign advisor Stephen Moore tells CBN's Faith Nation this could go on for weeks with neither side willing to budge.
"Right now they seem to not be close at all and Pelosi is not negotiating. It's hard to reach a compromise when the other side isn't negotiating. God forbid, this could go on for another three or four weeks. I hope not," he said.
And as far as the President's State of the Union speech goes – if the President doesn't deliver it from the House, another possibility for him is giving it from the Republican controlled Senate. Republicans are weighing their options.
Meanwhile, despite Pelosi's letter to the president, the House speaker has yet to formally rescind her invitation for the president to deliver his address later this month.