WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request to delay President Donald Trump’s State of Union address has been met with silence from the White House, yet another indication there is no movement toward ending a partial government shutdown that is nearing its fifth week.
Pelosi said Thursday the White House has yet to respond to her letter asking that the speech – scheduled for Jan. 29 – be delayed until after the government reopens or that Trump submit it to Congress in writing instead.
The California Democrat remained adamant that the speech should be postponed if the government has not reopened.
“It isn’t as if that date is sacred for any reason,” she said.
Citing security concerns due to the government shutdown, Pelosi sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday suggesting the speech be delayed if parts of the government are still shuttered on Jan. 29.
Pelosi referred to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s designation of State of the Union addresses as a “National Special Security Event,” which requires a high level of security. The Secret Service is responsible for such events, but the agency, a part of the Department of Homeland Security, is affected by the shutdown.
Nielsen dismissed Pelosi’s concerns, writing on Twitter that the department and the Secret Service “are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union.”
At a news conference on Thursday, Pelosi said the issue isn’t whether the Secret Service can provide proper security for the address. But because of the shutdown, agents are being forced to work without pay, and that is unacceptable, she said.
“They are professionals – they train for this,” she said. “They should be paid.”
Trump made no mention of Pelosi or the State of the Union while unveiling a revamped missile defense plan at the Pentagon on Thursday.
He did, however, again blame congressional Democrats for the shutdown and insisted that they adopt his border security plan.
“A wall has to be built,” he said. “We need security at our southern border.”
In attacking the Democrats for blocking his wall plan, Trump said the party has been “hijacked by the open borders fringe.”
The partial government shutdown – now in its 27th day – was triggered by Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Pelosi and other Democrats are refusing to give him the money, arguing that a wall would be costly and ineffective.
Contributing: Eliza Collins
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