Nancy Pelosi just gave the Speaker of the House’s version of a slap across the face to President Trump. In a letter to the president, Pelosi said it’s probably better to reschedule the president’s State of the Union address until after the shutdown is over.
“He can make it from the Oval Office if he wants,” she told reporters later.
The letter, which cites “security concerns,” limited resources for supporting agencies, and the fact that no president has ever issued a State of the Union during a government shutdown, also invites Trump to submit his State of the Union in writing.
Despite what the headlines say, Pelosi is not asking. pic.twitter.com/ReZIZdzbGj— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) January 16, 2019
The constitution calls on the president to “from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union” but there’s no requirement or directive that it be in the form of a speech. Most presidents delivered the State of the Union in writing until Woodrow Wilson revived the practice of doing it in person in the early 20th century.
The notion of a House Speaker asking a president about a House scheduling matter just doesn't make sense on its own terms.— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 16, 2019
And there’s nothing Trump can do to force her hand, the House floor is under control of the Speaker of the House. That being said, there’s nothing to stop Trump from demanding more airtime from the networks and issuing another soul-sucking Oval Office speech or maybe getting Mitch McConnell to invite him to address the Senate or scheduling some other “State of the Union”-type event, which could prove logistically difficult. (In either of the latter two cases, it’s tough to imagine Democrats attending.)
My colleague @kaitlancollins adds some context: Stephen Miller and other WH speechwriters have been working on the SOTU address for weeks. An administration official said they were prepared to craft it around the government shutdown, targeting Democrats, if it was still closed— Lauren Fox (@FoxReports) January 16, 2019
There goes that.
Before everyone in MAGA land gets in a huff about Pelosi being “rude” or doing something “unprecedented,” let’s take a trip in the wayback machine to when House Speaker John Boehner forced President Obama to reschedule an address to Congress.
And in the interest of preempting inevitable fake outrage, and the hoodwinking of people with short memories. pic.twitter.com/7s91xSwLa0— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 16, 2019
Obama originally requested to issue his address—which was about job creation in the middle of the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression—on the night of a Republican presidential primary debate. Boehner forced Obama to reschedule for a week later.
Trump has yet to respond.