Congress

Trump agrees to initial Pelosi request and delays State of the Union

President tweets that he will deliver address when the shutdown is over

President Donald J. Trump, here in the House chamber during his 2018 State of the Union address, now says he will wait until the government shutdown ends before delivering this year’s speech. (POOL Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In an odd ending to the drama surrounding the State of the Union, President Donald Trump agreed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s initial request and said he will delay delivery of the address until the partial government shutdown is over. 

“I will do the address when the Shutdown is over,” Trump said in a two-part tweet late Wednesday night. “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.”

Trump’s decision comes hours after an exchange of letters in which he told Pelosi he planned to deliver the State of the Union address Jan. 29 from the House chamber as they initially scheduled. Pelosi responded with her own letter saying she would not bring up a concurrent resolution needed to form a joint session of Congress to host his speech. 

Last week, Pelosi wrote to Trump, suggesting he delay the speech until the government was reopened, citing security concerns with the Department of Homeland Security and Secret Service not funded and hamstrung by furloughs. The California Democrat later explained that her concerns were more about those workers not getting paid, not their ability to provide the security that was needed. 

Trump noted in his Wednesday night tweets that it is Pelosi’s “prerogative” to change her mind about hosting his State of the Union address during the shutdown and appeared oddly willing after a week of back-and-forth barbs to agree to her request for a delay. 

“I look forward to giving a ‘great’ State of the Union Address in the near future!” he said.

Republican congressional leaders had suggested Trump move forward with the State of the Union on Jan. 29 despite Pelosi suggesting a delay.

After Pelosi declined to allow use of the House chamber for the speech,  Minority Whip Steve Scalise suggested Trump seek an alternative venue. White House aides had even signaled that was likely. 

But as is usual in the Trump White House, the president has the final word, and his decisions sometimes surprise. 

Also watch: 12 demonstrators arrested outside McConnell’s Russell office

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.