Shutdown: Trump urged to reschedule State of the Union address, Latest World News - The New Paper

Shutdown: Trump urged to reschedule State of the Union address

This article is more than 12 months old

House Leader urges Trump to reschedule traditional address because of shutdown

WASHINGTON: With the partial US government shutdown now in its 26th day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address - a move that could deny him the opportunity to use the pageantry of the speech to attack Democrats in their own chamber over the impasse.

With Mr Trump's address set for Jan 29, Ms Pelosi wrote him a letter citing security concerns because the Secret Service, which is required to provide security for the address, has not received funding during the dispute.

The stand-off was triggered by Mr Trump's demand for US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) to fund a wall along the US-Mexico border, which Democrats oppose.

Presidents traditionally deliver the address, which lays out the administration's goals for the coming year, in the House of Representatives chamber before a joint session of Congress and the majority of the Cabinet.

Democrats took control of the House after last November's congressional elections. During the shutdown, Mr Trump has blamed them for the stalemate, although he had earlier said he would take responsibility.

Ms Pelosi, speaking to reporters, suggested that if Mr Trump would not agree to reschedule the speech until the government reopens, he could deliver it from the Oval Office instead, a setting that would lack the grandeur of a congressional address.

The White House had no immediate comment on Ms Pelosi's request, and her letter appeared to have taken aides by surprise.

"Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest 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 the Congress," Ms Pelosi wrote.

US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told reporters later: "I think it's a good idea to delay (the speech) until the government is open."

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Twitter her department and the Secret Service were prepared to handle a presidential speech at the Capitol.

Representative Jim Jordan of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans allied to Mr Trump, said Ms Pelosi's move showed Democrats were "more focused on stopping the president than they are on serving the country." - REUTERS