US President Donald Trump intensified his war of words with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday after she effectively blocked him from delivering his annual address in Congress during the government shutdown, now in its 33rd day.
The State of the Union speech, typically used by presidents to announce their policy goals for the coming year, has become a hostage to the standoff between Trump and congressional Democrats over his demands for funding for a U.S. -Mexico border wall.
This one is the longest on record, and has left a broad swath of federal workers unpaid - among them airport security officers, FBI agents, museum workers and US Coast Guard personnel. His announcement came after Pelosi disinvited him from appearing in the House, which she controls, suggesting he delay the speech until after a partial federal government shutdown has ended, or deliver it in writing.
"I had already accepted your kind invitation, however, I then received another letter from you dated January 16, 2019, wherein you expressed concerns regrading security".
Trump sent a letter Wednesday telling Pelosi he meant to deliver his speech in the chamber as planned, but the speaker responded by declining to hold the necessary vote to invite the president to the chamber.
The message they planned to deliver at the Capitol - even one shaped around the shutdown - would be much more tamped down than the President's usual rhetoric at a rally, where he often deviates from the script and works off the crowd.
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Democrats have argued that with so many federal employees furloughed - temporarily laid off - or working without pay, the high-profile State of the Union address, which involves both chambers of Congress and the president, would not be logistically feasible.
"The United States Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security, who would have jurisdiction over whether or not the Capitol is safe for the president to visit, have addressed those concerns", Sanders said.
In a series of tweets shortly before midnight Thursday, the president noted that an alternative venue for his State of the Union would not do and postponing the event was the best option.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, said Pelosi's action "sets a new low for American politics".
The U.S. Constitution says that presidents "shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union".
By late afternoon, after Pelosi had rebuffed him, Trump seemed resigned to finding an alternative venue or perhaps not giving a speech at all.
A competing proposal by Senate Democrats that would open government through Feb 8 without funding Trump's wall, and leave room for border security negotiations, also failed to move forward by a similar tally.
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"Please accept this proposal so we can re-open government, repay our federal workers and then negotiate our differences".
What did Mr Trump say?
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Trump promised that Mexico would pay for his wall, but Mexico refused and now the Republican president wants USA taxpayers to pay for it.
But there is no precedent for a State of the Union invitation being rescinded.
Also in her statement, she changed her reasoning, no longer citing any "security" issue.
At the same time, the White House is continuing to work on contingency plans to give Trump a back-up in case the joint-session plans fall through.
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