Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Wednesday asking he delay his Jan. 29 State of the Union address, or deliver it in writing, unless the government is reopened.
The California Democrat said a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown “since the start of modern budgeting” in fiscal 1977. Pelosi also cited security concerns because the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security are not funded.
Wednesday marks the 26th day of the government shutdown over border security funding, the longest in modern history.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless 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 the Congress on January 29th,” Pelosi said.
Watch: It’s official — longest shutdown ever
A White House spokesman declined to comment, but said officials are preparing a response to Pelosi’s letter.
The State of the Union delay request letter was released about an hour after a senior White House official questioned Pelosi’s effort to strike a shutdown-ending deal.
“When was the last time you saw Pelosi on television?” the senior official said. “The president of the United States is on almost every day. He head three meetings with the [press] pool two days ago. … I would argue: Where is she? Why isn’t she addressing the American people on the shutdown?”
Her letter provided a partial answer, with the speaker describing in clear terms how major events could be simply unfeasible with several federal security entities shuttered.