Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday asked President Donald Trump to delay the State of the Union address because of the ongoing partial government shutdown.
Pelosi, in a letter to Trump, said "Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest 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 29.”
While Pelosi’s letter was a suggestion to delay the speech or for Trump to submit it in writing, she stopped short of disinviting the president to give the speech in the well of the House chamber, as has been the tradition.
Can Pelosi disinvite Trump? Here is how the process of inviting a president happens:
The invitation to address a joint session of Congress is technically a House resolution that sets aside a day and time for the president to come to the Capitol and address a joint session of Congress.
A joint session of Congress means both the members of the House of Representatives and the members of the Senate are together in one chamber to hear a speaker.
Because the speech involves a joint session, both the House and the Senate must pass resolutions to OK the joint session.
The passing of the resolutions, in essence, constitutes an invitation from both the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader for the president to appear before both chambers of Congress.
So far, neither the House nor the Senate has passed such a resolution that invites the president to give the State of the Union address on Jan. 29.
Can Pelosi keep Trump from delivering the address?
Yes, she can in that she controls when a vote comes to the House floor. Pelosi could hold back the vote on the resolution to create a day and time for the president to speak, and prevent him from addressing House members.
Doesn’t the president have to give the speech?
There is no Constitutional requirement that a president delivers a State of the Union address in public. Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution requires only that the president periodically "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.”
Until 1913, presidents submitted reports to Congress. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson broke with that tradition and began giving a public address. Since then, the address has been a yearly occurrence, usually in January, that is given before a joint session of Congress and is televised.
Pelosi suggested in her letter that Trump submit the address in writing to the House.