US President Donald Trump said in a late night Tweet on Wednesday that he would delay the State of the Union Address until the government shutdown was over as a response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s move to obstruct his plans for the speech.
Earlier in the day, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives floated the idea of ending the partial government shutdown by giving Trump most or all of the money he seeks for the security along the Mexican border but for items other than the wall he wants.
As a shutdown that has left 800,000 federal workers without pay hit its 33rd day, Pelosi effectively disinvited Trump from delivering the annual State of the Union Address in the House chamber until the government is fully opened.
The Republican president responded to the Democrat Speaker with a tweet.
“This is her prerogative – I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. I am not looking for an alternative venue for the SOTU Address because there is no venue that can compete with the history, tradition, and importance of the House Chamber,” said the president in the tweet. “I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the future!”
Other leaders in the Democratic-controlled House said they were drafting a funding offer they will likely make to Trump in a letter.
Representative James Clyburn, the No. 3 House Democrat, said Democrats could be fulfill Trump’s request for $5.7 billion for border security with technological tools such as drones, X-rays, and sensors, as well as more border patrol agents.
Representative Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said Democrats also would discuss “substantial sums of additional money” for border security as part of a possible deal. He did not say if it would amount to the $5.7 billion sought by Trump.
The president triggered the shutdowns last month by demanding money for the wall, opposed by Democrats, as part of any legislation to fund about a quarter of the government. Clybum’s offer would be a significant monetary increase over bills previously passed by Democrats, which included only about $1.3 billion for this year in additional border security, with none for the wall.
“Using the figure the president put on the table, if his $5.7 billion is about border security then we see ourselves fulfilling that request, only doing it with what I like to call using a smart wall,” said Clyburn.
Republican Representative Tom Cole, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, told reporters that the Democratic proposal could help.
“Any movement, any discussion is helpful,” Cole said. “We’ve got to get past his wall-or-no-wall debate.”
The battle over border security and government funding spilled over into a parallel dispute over the president’s State of the Union address. Trump sent a letter to Pelosi on Wednesday saying that he looked forward to delivering it as scheduled next Tuesday in the House chamber. Pelosi previously had asked Trump to consider delaying it because security could not be guaranteed during the shutdown.