Thursday July 18th, 2019 2:14PM

Government shutdown may upend State of the Union speech

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — A grand Washington ritual became a potential casualty of the partial government shutdown Wednesday as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Donald Trump to postpone his Jan. 29 State of the Union speech. She cited concerns about whether the hobbled government can provide adequate security, but Republicans cast her move as a ploy to deny Trump the stage.

In a letter to Trump, Pelosi said that with both the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department entangled in the shutdown, the president should speak to Congress another time or he should deliver the address in writing. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen denied anyone's safety is compromised, saying both agencies "are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union."

Trump did not immediately respond to the request and the White House, thrown off guard by the move, had yet to offer any official response hours later. But GOP allies accused Pelosi of playing politics, with Republican Rep. Steve Scalise tweeting that Democrats are "only interested in obstructing @realDonaldTrump, not governing."

Pelosi, who issued the customary invitation to Trump weeks ago, hit the president in a vulnerable place, as he delights in taking his message to the public and has been preparing for the address for weeks.

The uncertainty surrounding the speech also underscored the unraveling of ceremonial norms and niceties in Trump's Washington, with the shutdown in its fourth week, the White House and Democrats in a stalemate and the impasse draining the finances of hundreds of thousands of federal employees.

Pelosi left unclear what would happen if Trump insisted on coming despite the welcome mat being pulled away. It takes a joint resolution of the House and Congress to extend the official invitation and set the stage.

"We'll have to have a security evaluation, but that would mean diverting resources," she told reporters when asked how she would respond if Trump still intended to come. "I don't know how that could happen."

Pressure on Trump intensified on the 26th day of the shutdown, as lawmakers from both parties scrambled for solutions. At the White House, Trump met a bipartisan group of lawmakers, as well as a group of Republican senators, but progress appeared elusive.

While his own advisers said the shutdown was proving a greater drag on the economy than expected, Trump showed no signs of backing off a fight that he views as vital for his core supporters.

On Wednesday, Trump signed legislation into law affirming that the roughly 800,000 federal workers who have been going without pay will ultimately be compensated for their lost wages. That was the practice in the past.

As he weighs a response to Pelosi, Trump could not go forward with a State of the Union address in Congress without her blessing. Donald Ritchie, former historian of the Senate, said that anytime a president comes to speak, it must be at the request of Congress. Trump could opt to deliver a speech somewhere else, like the Oval Office, but it would not have the same ritualistic heft.

Democratic leaders did not ask the Secret Service if the agency would be able to secure the State of the Union event before sending the letter, according to a senior Homeland Security official, who was not authorized to speak publicly. Pelosi's office said Congress is already familiar with the percentage of Secret Service and Homeland Security employees who have been furloughed and working without pay.

The Secret Service starts preparing for events like these months in advance.

Lawmakers struggled to find a way out of the shutdown Wednesday. Trump is demanding $5.7 billion to build a wall along the Mexican border that he says is needed on humanitarian and security grounds. But Pelosi is refusing money for the wall she views as ineffective and immoral and Democrats say they will discuss border security once the government has reopened.

Some expressed little optimism.

Sen. Lindsay Graham, a South Carolina Republican who has been working on bipartisan strategies, declared glumly: "I am running out of ideas."

Trump met a bipartisan group of lawmakers Wednesday that included seven Democrats. Two people who attended the White House meeting agreed it was "productive," but could not say to what extent Trump was listening or moved by the conversation.

The people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the event candidly, said it seemed at some points as if people were talking past each other. Lawmakers talked about the shutdown's effect on their constituents and advocated for "border security." Trump and others on-and-off used the term "wall." It was not clear if progress had been made, by those accounts.

Meanwhile a group of Republican senators headed to the White House later Wednesday.

Many Republicans were unwilling to sign on to a letter led by Graham and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., to re-open the government for three weeks while talks continue.

"Does that help the president or does that hurt the president?" asked Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., among those going to the White House. He has not signed the letter. "If the president saw it as a way to be conciliatory, if he thought it would help, then perhaps it's a good idea," he said. "If it's just seen as a weakening of his position, then he probably wouldn't do it."

While Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she has signed, others said GOP support was lacking. "They're a little short on the R side," said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., another leader of the effort.

The House and Senate announced they are canceling next week's planned recess if shutdown continues, which seemed likely. Some Republicans expressed concerns over the impact of the shutdown and who was getting blamed.

Said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.:"Right now, are you seeing any pressure on Democrats? I think Republicans are getting the lion's share of the pressure."

He added: "The president accepted the blame so people are happy to give it to him."


For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. government shutdown: https://apnews.com/GovernmentShutdown


Associated Press writers Chris Rugaber, Darlene Superville, Matthew Daly, Jonathan Lemire, Alan Fram, Colleen Long, Andrew Taylor, Laurie Kellman, Elana Schor and Ken Sweet contributed to this report

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online President, White House, advisers News, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Government shutdown may upend State of the Union speech
A ritual is imperiled as Pelosi asks Trump to delay State of the Union speech if shutdown persists
7:50PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Robert Durst defense: Evidence could be 'game over' for heir
New York real estate heir Robert Durst faces one count of murder, but will have to defend himself in three killings at trial later this year
7:45PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Michigan State President Engler says he'll resign next week
Former Gov. John Engler is resigning as Michigan State's interim president amid public backlash over his comments about women and girls sexually assaulted by now-imprisoned campus sports doctor Larry Nassar
7:44PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
White House denounces Rep. King's white supremacy remarks
The White House is describing comments by Republican Rep. Steve King about white supremacy as "abhorrent"
7:04PM ( 54 minutes ago )
American anchor for Iranian TV is arrested on visit to US
Prominent American-born news anchor for Iranian state television arrested during US visit
7:04PM ( 55 minutes ago )
John Bogle, founder of Vanguard, dies at 89
John Bogle, investing pioneer and founder of Vanguard Group, who brought index funds to millions of investors, dies at age 89, the company says
6:37PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Sears survives a near-death experience, but for how long?
Sears will live on _ at least for now _ courtesy of a rescue plan outlined by its chairman
5:32PM ( 2 hours ago )
Trustee: Engler set to resign as Michigan State's president
A member of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees says interim President John Engler is resigning amid backlash over his comments about Larry Nassar's sexual assault victims
5:28PM ( 2 hours ago )
ORRR-DUHHH: Britain Parliament speaker seeks to calm debate
John Bercow, the speaker of Britain's House of Commons, plays a big role in shaping the raucous Brexit debate and sometimes sounds like a headmaster trying to get unruly pupils to behave
5:25PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Watchdog: GSA ignored emoluments in OKing Trump hotel lease
The inspector general for the General Services Administration says the agency improperly ignored the U.S. Constitution's provision outlawing foreign gifts when it OKed President Donald Trump's management of his Washington hotel after his 2016 election
6:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
US lawmaker opposes drilling permit work during shutdown
The chairman of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee says the Interior Department should not be working on oil and gas development permits and leases in Alaska and elsewhere during the partial government shutdown
6:18PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Greek PM Tsipras survives confidence vote
Greece's left-wing prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, has narrowly won a confidence vote in parliament days after the governing coalition collapsed
3:59PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump feels shutdown pressure from economists, Nancy Pelosi
Pressure is mounting on President Donald Trump as his own economists say the partial government shutdown is having a greater drag on the economy than projected
1:04PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: 7 Democrats visit White House to talk to Trump
Seven Democratic lawmakers, including newly elected freshmen, have arrived at the White House ready to ask President Donald Trump to reopen the government while talks continue over border security
12:31PM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: USDA reopening Farm Service Agency for 3 days
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is temporarily reopening an agency that provides resources to farmers and ranchers
12:11PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online President, White House, advisers News
The Latest: UK's May wins vote to keep job, Brexit chaos
British Prime Minister Theresa May's government has survived a no-confidence vote called after May's Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by lawmakers
2:21PM ( 5 hours ago )
May government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat
British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a no-confidence vote a day after Parliament rejected her Brexit deal by a historic margin
2:10PM ( 5 hours ago )
Democrats hit Wheeler's rollbacks at EPA during hearing
Acting EPA chief Andrew Wheeler describes himself as a champion of deregulation and the environment at his confirmation hearing
1:11PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Robert Durst defense: Evidence could be 'game over' for heir
New York real estate heir Robert Durst faces one count of murder, but will have to defend himself in three killings at trial later this year
7:45PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Michigan State President Engler says he'll resign next week
Former Gov. John Engler is resigning as Michigan State's interim president amid public backlash over his comments about women and girls sexually assaulted by now-imprisoned campus sports doctor Larry Nassar
7:44PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Syria attack kills 4 Americans, raising questions on pullout
A suicide bombing claimed by the Islamic State group has killed at least 16 people, including two U.S. service members and two American civilians, in northern Syria
7:35PM ( 23 minutes ago )
John Bogle dies at 89; fought for lower fees for investors
John Bogle, who simplified investing and fought for lower fees for investors, dies at age 89
7:16PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Battles expected in many states over abortion-related bills
Legislators and activists will push this year to pass high-priority bills on abortion in statehouses across the United States
7:11PM ( 47 minutes ago )