House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Wednesday asked President Donald Trump to delay his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union address until the resolution of the government shutdown, now in its 26th day.
In a letter to Trump, Pelosi cited the cost of the annual event’s security, typically coordinated by the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security. Both have “critical departments hamstrung by furloughs,” she wrote.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The annual State of the Union address is traditionally delivered by the president before a joint session of Congress in the House chamber at the invitation of the speaker. Hours after she was sworn in as House speaker on Jan. 3, Pelosi extended the invitation to Trump.
Asked to clarify whether Pelosi’s letter on Wednesday rescinds the invitation, a spokesman for the speaker said “the letter speaks for itself.”
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the State of the Union is considered a “national special security event” that demands “some of the most complex and logistically complicated protective operations undertaken by the Secret Service, often requiring anywhere from 3 to 18 months of planning.”
Delaying a presidential address to a joint session of Congress is not without precedent. In 2011, then-President Barack Obama agreed to delay a special address to Congress at the request of then-House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), after Boehner argued that the last-minute event required more time for arranging security.
This article has been updated to include a comment from Pelosi’s spokesman.