Furloughs will make it difficult to provide the necessary security for the event.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to Trump urging him to postpone the State of the Union address until he ends his government shutdown.
"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," Pelosi wrote.
The State of the Union address requires a huge, well-coordinated security operation. But the U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are not funded due to the Trump shutdown, and Pelosi noted that critical departments are "hamstrung by furloughs."
Pelosi also pointed out that State of the Union addresses have never been given during a government shutdown, and that it was traditional for presidents to give the address in writing during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The shutdown started in December after Trump threw a tantrum and demanded Congress pay a $5 billion ransom for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. At the time, Trump announced on national television that he would be "proud" to own the shutdown if Democrats refused to fund the wall.
Trump did indeed shut down the government — but he has refused to own it, choosing instead to blame Democrats for rejecting his unreasonable demands.
In her first day as speaker, Pelosi led the new Democratic House majority in passing bills to end the Trump shutdown. Unfortunately, Trump's accomplice in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), refused to hold a vote on the bills.
McConnell even went so far as to ridicule bills reopening the government as "absolutely pointless."
In an interview with press after the letter was delivered, Pelosi reiterated that the security concerns were based on a statement from DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who designated the State of the Union as a National Special Security Event. Robust security is needed because not just Trump and the entire Congress, but also most of the Cabinet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Supreme Court justices would all be in the same room.
Hundreds of people would be needed to coordinate such security, Pelosi said, but "most of those people are either furloughed or victims of the president's shutdown." She added that Trump was welcome to give the State of the Union from the Oval Office if he wanted.
While Pelosi's letter did not disinvite Trump from delivering the State of the Union, some are interpreting it as more than a mere suggestion.
When House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) was asked if the move meant Trump was disinvited from giving the address, he said, "Well I think that was the proper way to read it."
Calling Nancy Pelosi "GOAT," (an acronym for "Greatest Of All Time") former Sen. Harry Reid's deputy chief of staff Adam Jentleson tweeted, "Pelosi told Trump that if he doesn’t reopen the government he can't deliver the State of the Union in person but he's welcome to deliver it in writing and I'm dying and it's time once again for us all to appreciate and be thankful for the GOAT," adding several crying-while-laughing emojis.
Trump demanded a shutdown, and he got it — in exchange for putting the nation's security at risk. But perhaps the stakes will be clearer to Trump if the shutdown jeopardizes one of his biggest TV appearances.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.