Nancy Pelosi Calls Donald Trump’s Bluff, Tells Him She Won’t Allow State Of The Union Speech In House Chamber

Win McNameeGetty Images

After Donald Trump sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday, one telling her that — despite her objections — he would deliver his State of the Union address from the House Chamber on January 29 no matter what, as CNN reported, Pelosi quickly responded. She has refused to allow Trump to enter the House of Representatives to give his annual address.

Under congressional rules, before any president can deliver a State of the Union address to a joint session of congress — according to an analysis by McClatchy News — both the House and the Senate must vote to approve a “concurrent resolution” calling the two bodies together for the combined session.

But the Speaker of the House must call for a vote on the resolution, and in her letter to Trump on Wednesday, Pelosi told Trump that as long as the partial government shutdown remains in effect, she will not allow a vote on the resolution — giving Trump no audience for his speech, as TPM reported.

Pelosi has no power to prevent the Senate alone from hosting Trump’s State of the Union speech, but in his earlier letter to Pelosi, posted on Twitter by press secretary Sarah Sanders, Trump stressed his desire to give the address at the traditional location — the House Chamber, before a joint session.

Even if Trump were to show up to deliver the address inside the House Chamber with no audience, Pelosi would need to authorize such basic functions as turning on the lights — and allowing TV cameras to broadcast the speech. According to the McClatchy analysis, only C-Span has traditionally been allowed to set up cameras in the chamber, and all other networks broadcast the C-Span feed. But C-Span may not operate inside the House without the speaker’s permission.

In her letter of January 16 — denying Trump permission to deliver his speech to the joint session, according to CNBC — Pelosi cited security concerns, particularly that many security agents on hand would be doing so on a severely delayed pay schedule.

But in his reply to Pelosi on Wednesday, Trump declared that — despite the Secret Service receiving no paychecks for the past month — he had been told by officials that there would be “absolutely no problem regarding security with respect to the event,” CNN reported.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said he was “not surprised” that Pelosi refused to allow him to speak to a joint session of congress, according to ABC News, repeating his frequent refrain that the Democratic Party had become “radicalized.”

Under Pelosi, the House has voted to reopen the government on at least nine occasions, per ABC.