Pelosi ‘glad’ Trump delayed State of the Union

’It is so unimportant in the lives of the American people,' speaker says

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted January 24, 2019 at 11:13am

Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed satisfaction Thursday in President Donald Trump’s decision to delay his State of the Union address until after the government is reopened — something she had requested. 

“I’m glad we could get that off the table because I know it was the source of many questions,” she said. “Should we rent the equipment for the State of the Union? Should we have our families come in?”

Pelosi made the comments — likely the final word on the State of the Union until the partial government shutdown ends — during her weekly press conference at the Capitol. 

“It is so unimportant in the lives of the American people, especially those who are victims of the shutdown, hostages to the president’s applause line in a campaign speech,” the California Democrat said, referring to Trump’s campaign promise to build a border wall.

Watch: Pelosi on State of the Union showdown: ‘I’m glad we can get that off the table’

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The speaker closed out her thoughts on the matter by speaking directly to Trump: “Thank you for recognizing that it’s inappropriate to have a State of the Union address where people are working hard, very hard, to protect all of us in that room, and not getting paid for it.”

Trump watching

Trump appeared to be watching Pelosi’s remarks, and sent out a tweet as she was speaking.

“Nancy just said she ‘just doesn’t understand why?’ Very simply, without a Wall it all doesn’t work,” he said. “Our Country has a chance to greatly reduce Crime, Human Trafficking, Gangs and Drugs. Should have been done for decades. We will not Cave!”

Trump seemed to take Pelosi’s quote out of context, as if she had been talking about him. She was actually speaking about his Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross

“They have Wilbur Ross saying he doesn’t understand why, when he was asked about people going into food lines and pantries and the rest. He doesn’t understand why they have to do that,” Pelosi said. 

“Is this the ‘let me eat cake’ kind of attitude, or call your father for money? ‘This is character building for you, it’s going to all end up very well just so long as you don’t get your paychecks.’ I don’t quite understand why as hundreds of thousands of men and women are about to miss a second paycheck tomorrow,” she added.

During her remarks, Pelosi pointed to a pair of test votes the Senate was scheduled to take later Thursday on competing proposals to reopen the government.

One is the proposal Trump outlined over the weekend that would provide $5.7 billion for a border barrier and additional money for other border security measures. It would also extend, for three years, protections for undocumented immigrants with Temporary Protected Status or those enrolled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, among other immigration law changes. 

The other measure, favored by Democrats, is a continuing resolution to reopen the government through Feb. 8 coupled with a supplemental disaster funding package. Both have already passed the House, and Pelosi would like the Senate to pass them too.

“There’s no excuse for Senate Republicans not to pass this legislation,” Pelosi said. “We’ve asked them over and over again to take yes for an answer.”

Ultimately, both Senate votes are expected to fail, leaving lawmakers to go back to the drawing board and develop a plan that has bipartisan support.

No counteroffer

Democrats, meanwhile, have been discussing their border security funding priorities, but Pelosi declined to characterize the developing proposal as a counteroffer to the president’s border security plan.

“That’s not true,” she said. “We are doing what we had been doing all along. We have been working on our congressional responsibility to write bills, appropriations bills, to keep government open.”

While many of those bills have come to the House floor, the Homeland Security appropriations bill is not yet complete, Pelosi noted.

“Hopefully, it will be finished soon and out of that you will see our commitment to border security,” she said.

Asked if the Democrats were discussing a $5.7 billion border security funding plan, Pelosi said, “Within our $49 billion Homeland Security bill, there will be some provisions.”

She declined to specify an amount that will be devoted specifically to border security, but she said the forthcoming plan will include “proposals for what comes next.”

Some members feel that if the Senate votes fail as expected, what needs to come next is another meeting between Trump and congressional leaders. Pelosi, while noting that the president walked out of the last meeting, expressed willingness to resume talks but stopped short of calling for a meeting.

“It’s the president of the United States,” she said. “We meet with him anytime he wants to meet.”