President Donald Trump has backed down in his fight with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, agreeing to delay delivering the annual State of the Union address until after a partial government shutdown — now nearing its sixth week — is over.
“I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over,” Trump announced on Twitter late Wednesday night. “I look forward to giving a ‘great’ State of the Union Address in the near future!”
The president also backed down from comments he made Wednesday that he would seek alternative options for delivering the address, which had been scheduled for next Tuesday. On Twitter, Trump said he would not deliver his speech elsewhere because “no venue that can compete with the history, tradition and importance of the House Chamber.”
Trump had challenged Pelosi and vowed to deliver the State of the Union in the House chamber next week. But on Wednesday, Pelosi blocked Trump’s plan by refusing to pass the resolution necessary for him to give his speech before the joint session of Congress.
“I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until the government has opened," Pelosi said in a letter sent to president.
Here’s everything else you need to know about the now-delayed State of the Union address.
Pelosi’s decision to rescind her invitation to Trump is the first time in U.S. history that the president has been denied the opportunity to deliver the annual State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress.
President Ronald Reagan was forced to postpone his 1986 State of the Union address for a week after the Challenger space shuttle disaster on Jan. 28. of that year.
With all the uncertainty surrounding the speech, all of the major broadcast networks were still waiting to find out what Trump planned to do before announcing any plans to break into their normal programming.
One network source speculated that a speech at the White House with members of Congress in attendance could still be construed as a State of the Union. But a political speech more akin to Trump’s rallies during the campaign would likely be something the network would avoid airing live, the source said. Not airing on broadcast television would have severely limited the reach of Trump’s address.
The Constitution is pretty vague about the speech itself, stating only that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.”
Both George Washington and John Adam delivered speeches before Congress, but in 1801 Thomas Jefferson delivered his State of the Union in writing. Woodrow Wilson returned to the tradition of delivering a speech before Congress in 1913, and Franklin D. Roosevelt was first to refer to it as the “State of the Union” in 1943. Harry Truman made the name official in 1947.