President makes State of the Union plans

President makes State of the Union plans

Washington: The White House is moving forward with plans for President Donald Trump to deliver his State of the Union speech next week in front of a joint session of Congress — despite a letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requesting he delay it.

The White House sent an email to the House sergeant-at-arms asking to schedule a walk-through in anticipation of a Jan. 29 address, according to a White House official who was not authorised to discuss the planning by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Pelosi made the invitation to president on State of the Union. He accepted,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “At this point, we're moving forward.”

The move is latest in a game of political brinksmanship between Trump and Speaker as they remain locked in an increasingly personal standoff over Trump's demand for wall funding that has forced a partial government shutdown, now in its second month.

The gamesmanship began last week when Pelosi sent a letter to Trump suggesting that he either deliver the speech in writing or postpone it until after the partial government shutdown is resolved, citing security concerns. But the White House maintains Pelosi never formally rescinded her invitation, and is, in essence, calling her bluff.

“She has not canceled it. She asked us to postpone it,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said in an interview on Tuesday. “We have no announcement at this time,” he said, “but Nancy Pelosi does not dictate to president when he will or will not have a conversation with American people.” At the same time, the White House is continuing to work on contingency plans to give Trump a backup in case the joint-session plans fall through.

The president cannot speak in front of a joint session of Congress without both chambers’ explicit permission. A resolution needs to be agreed to by both chambers specifying the date and time for receiving an address from the president.