Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) is requesting that President Donald Trump delay the annual State of the Union speech or deliver the details of what he has to say in writing.
In a letter that was delivered to the president on Wednesday, Pelosi said that it’d be inappropriate to give the speech during a government shutdown, citing the difficulties in maintaining proper security while doing so.
“On January 3rd, it was my privilege as Speaker to invite you to deliver the State of the Union address on January 29th,” Pelosi wrote at the start of her letter, according to reporting from CNBC.
But toward the conclusion of her note to Trump, Pelosi urges Trump to change course — to delay the speech or give his report in writing to Congress.
“[G]iven the security concerns and unless the 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 your to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29th.”
The State of the Union is a requirement of the president to give to Congress on a yearly basis. Typically the speech is given with great fanfare, broadcast live from the House chamber, and broadcast to Americans across network television stations around the country.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has sent a letter to President Trump asking to move the day of the State of the Union address or deliver it in writing, citing security concerns from the ongoing government shutdown https://t.co/MGs5YiqE4n pic.twitter.com/DrfwpKWyN7— CNN (@CNN) January 16, 2019
There is no requirement, however, that the State of the Union has to be a speech at all. The U.S. Constitution, according to Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute, simply states that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
It does not require a speech to be given at all, although the same clause also grants the president the power to convene both houses of Congress if he wants to.
In fact, most presidents in our nation’s history have not given a formal speech. From 1801 until 1913, there wasn’t any speech given on the State of the Union, and as recently as 1973, former President Richard Nixon sent a written statement rather than speak before Congress on the matter, according to the Congressional Research Service.
This would be the first State of the Union to convene under a government shutdown, per an observational tweet written out by journalist A.J. Chavar. The shutdown began on December 22 and is the longest running in the nation’s history.