White House looking at ‘Plan B’ if State of the Union is delayed

Top spokeswoman does not dismiss report that Texas rally is being considered

President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address last year. He might hold a rally at an alternate site this year due to the partial government shutdown. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)
President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address last year. He might hold a rally at an alternate site this year due to the partial government shutdown. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)
Posted January 23, 2019 at 11:15am

The White House is mulling multiple locations where President Donald Trump might deliver an address – or hold a raucous rally – Tuesday evening to inform the country about his assessment of the direction of the country.

Trump’s top spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, was asked Wednesday morning about reports the White House is looking at other locations than the U.S. Capitol building’s House chamber for an address in place of the president’s second State of the Union address. She did not try to knock down those reports, notably.

“We always like to have a Plan B,” Sanders told Fox News.

A Daily Mail report pointed to the U.S.-Mexico border area as one alternative being discussed in the West Wing. Sanders was asked specifically about a presidential address there Tuesday evening should Trump take Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s advice and opt against delivering a formal State of the Union address in the well of the House chamber.

[State of the Union status unclear as White House seeks to keep it on Jan. 29]

Pelosi claims to be concerned about securing the Capitol during an ongoing partial government shutdown that shows no signs of being resolved in six days, and has asked the president to delay his address or simply hand it to lawmakers in writing.

The White House has yet to formally respond to Pelosi’s letter seeking a delay or hand-delivered address.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the decision on whether the State of the Union will be scheduled for Tuesday will be made between Pelosi and Trump.

Pelosi “didn’t disinvite him; she suggested another date,” Hoyer said, noting the president has not sent the speaker a response. “We’ll see what’s going to happen.”

The Sergeant at Arms and Capitol Police will be prepared to provide security should the event go forward, he said.

As for a concurrent resolution that would need to be adopted to host a joint session, Hoyer suggested there is no urgency to do that.

“That can be passed Tuesday the 29th,” he said.

Trump’s aides are “moving forward” with plans for the president to deliver a formal the State of the Union speech, Sanders said Wednesday morning as White House officials continued to send mix messages about their plans as they try to keep all options open for Trump.

The idea of a border address — or one of Trump’s signature campaign rallies, in Texas — would be to highlight what Trump and senior administration officials claim is a security and humanitarian “crisis” at the border.

[‘Amnesty Don’ returns? Trump curiously challenges his conservative base]

Trump sent a tweet Sunday addressed to “Nancy” saying he was still thinking about the State of the Union.

“There are so many options — including doing it as per your written offer (made during the Shutdown, security is no problem), and my written acceptance,” he said. “While a contract is a contract, I’ll get back to you soon!”

Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill responded with his own tweet noting that the speaker’s office never received a “written acceptance” from Trump to her Jan. 3 letter inviting him to deliver his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Jan. 29.

Hammill said Tuesday evening that the White House still has not sent Pelosi a response to her request for a delay but otherwise had no updates on the status of the State of the Union.

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.Watch: Last year’s State of the Union in 3 minutes

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