Donald Trump delays State of the Union Address after Nancy Pelosi bars him from House chamber

Donald Trump said in a late night tweet on Wednesday that he would delay a State of the Union address until the government shutdown was over.

The move came in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s move to bar him from delivering the annual presidential address in its traditional location, the chamber of the House of Representatives.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat Speaker of the House, announced the US president was not welcome for the planned major speech on Jan 29.

She said he would not be welcome until the US government was reopened.

The Republican president responded to the Democrat speaker on Twitter, writing:

"This is her prerogative – I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over. 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," the president said in the tweet.

"I look forward to giving a “great” State of the Union Address in the near future!"

Ms Pelosi responded to the President shortly after, writing that she hoped he would end the shutdown on Thursday when the Senate voted on a house-passed package to end the shutdown. 

With the shutdown – already the longest in US history – approaching its 35th day on Friday, the Senate voted for the first time on bills that would reopen government by approving new spending on Thursday. 

One, proposed by the Republicans, was based on Mr Trump’s offer to extend protections for 700,000 migrants brought to American illegally as children in exchange for $5.7 billion to build his Mexico border wall. 

The other, a Democrat plan, included opening up government for three weeks for immigration reform talks but no border wall cash. Neither got the 60 votes needed to pass. 

Mr Trump later said he would only agree to a temporary spending bill to fund the government if it included a “prorated down payment for the wall”.

He did not say how much the down payment would need to be, but Sarah Sanders, his press secretary, said it would have to be "large".

The president added that if Congress did not fund the wall he had "other alternatives if I have to, we have to have a wall".

The latest escalation over the State of the Union Address put relations between America’s legislative and executive branches in uncharted territory.

Mr Trump said Mrs Pelosi had "cancelled" the State of the Union and the decision was a "great blotch" on the country, and a "negative part of history". He added that it was a "disgrace".

For the State of the Union both houses of the legislature cram into the House chamber for an annual update from the president. The event is a convention, rather than having written down rules.

The US Constitution states only that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union".

It does not specify the location, or preclude the president from giving his update in writing.

The president cannot speak in front of a joint session of Congress without explicit permission from both chambers.

A resolution needs to be approved by both chambers specifying the date and time.

But Mrs Pelosi said the Democrat-controlled House would not authorise such a resolution at this time.

The traditional invitation to the president had gone out before the shutdown began.

Last week, Mrs Pelosi suggested the high-profile event be suspended due to security concerns stemming from the shutdown.

However, on Wednesday, Mr Trump wrote to the speaker formally accepting the original invitation to speak on Jan 29.

War over Trump's Wall | How long since the US shutdown began?

Mr Trump said he had consulted with the Secret Service and they would have "no problem" keeping him safe.

The president wrote to Mrs Pelosi: "Therefore, I will be honouring your invitation, and fulfilling my Constitutional duty to the people and Congress regarding the State of our Union.

"It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!"

WATCH:  Food banks and garage sales – the real-life impact of the US government shutdown

In a quick written response Mrs Pelosi said the House would not authorise the resolution allowing Mr Trump into the chamber.

She wrote: "I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened."

Immediately after that, Mr Trump said: "I’m not surprised. It’s really a shame what’s happening with the Democrats. They’ve become radicalised.

"The State of the Union has been cancelled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth.

"She’s afraid of the super-left Democrats, the radical Democrats. What’s going on in that party is shocking. She doesn’t want to know the truth. I think that’s a great blotch on the great country we all love."

Trump now also holds the record for most non-continuous shutdown days

In what is becoming a deeply personal stand-off Mr Trump last week revoked Mrs Pelosi’s use of a military aircraft, thereby canceling her planned visit to meet troops in Afghanistan.

Recent polls have suggested most of the American public oppose Mr Trump’s stance. Six in 10 Americans blame the US president for the shutdown, according to one recent survey. 

Another showed 71 per cent of respondents saying a border wall was not worth a government shutdown. There is also evidence that Mr Trump’s approval ratings have slipped in recent weeks. 

Warnings of the impact of the shutdown, which affects 25 per cent of the federal government, are also becoming more dire as it drags into its second month with no end in sight.

Three airline worker associations have released a joint statement expressing their “growing concern” over safety, warning they could not predict when “the entire system will break” if the shutdown continues. 

The FBI Agents Association has warned that it has not been able to pay some informants – crucial in drugs, terrorism and gang violence investigations – and they could be lost altogether.  

Karl Schultz, the commandant of the US Coast Guard, went public with his frustration this week, saying it is “unacceptable” that some employees have to rely on food banks. 

Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, faced criticism on Thursday for playing down the impact the shutdown was having on some of the 800,000 federal workers affected. 

Challenged in an interview over reports some workers were going to homeless shelters to get food, Mr Ross replied: “I know they are and I can’t really understand why.”  Mrs Pelosi accused Mr Ross of having a “let them eat cake” attitude. 

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