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Pelosi writes to Trump, urges him to reschedule his State of the Union address

PTI washington
Updated: 16-01-2019 21:14 IST
Pelosi writes to Trump, urges him to reschedule his State of the Union address

In an unprecedented move, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to reschedule his annual State of the Union address slated for January 29, citing security concerns triggered by the ongoing government shutdown which has "hamstrung" the critical departments.

Pelosi in a letter to Trump suggested that the State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress be delayed until government re-opens.

The current partial government shutdown, now into its 25th day, has rendered more than 800,000 federal employees without work, crippling the functioning of several key wings of the government including Security and State department.

The longest-ever government shutdown is a result of the bitter political divided over birder security issue as the Democrats who now enjoy majority in the House have refused to approve a legislation approving USD 5.7 billion in federal funding to construct a wall across the US-Mexico border.

Trump insists that building a wall is the only solution to protect the nation from a large flow of illegal immigrants and drug smuggling.

The Democrats are opposed to any such funding. After Trump walked out of a meeting at the White House last week, Democrats have refused to come to the negotiation table.

In a letter, released to the media, Pelosi wrote to Trump that the US Secret Service was designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising and implementing security for National Special Security Events by Public Law 106-544, December 19, 2000.

"However, both the US Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now – with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs," she said.

"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 said.

In her letter, Pelosi noted that the American Constitution calls for the President to "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union".

During the 19th Century and up until the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, these annual State of the Union messages were delivered to Congress in writing. And since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown, she wrote.

"In September 2018, Secretary Nielsen designated State of the Union addresses as National Special Security Events (NSSEs), recognising the need for 'the full resources of the Federal Government to be brought to bear' to ensure the security of these events. The extraordinary demands presented by NSSEs require weeks of detailed planning with dozens of agencies working together to prepare for the safety of all participant," Pelosi said.

There was no immediate reaction from the White House.

However, Trump continued to insist that the wall was the best solution to the border crisis, to which the opposition Democrats disagree.

"There are now 77 major or significant Walls built around the world, with 45 countries planning or building Walls. Over 800 miles of Walls have been built in Europe since only 2015. They have all been recognised as close to 100% successful. Stop the crime at our Southern Border!" Trump said in a tweet.

"It is becoming more and more obvious that the Radical Democrats are a Party of open borders and crime. They want nothing to do with the major Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border. #2020!" he said.

Trump has said he only wants to stop the flow of illegal immigrants, human trafficking and smuggling of drugs, by having a solid steel structure or concrete structure.