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The staring contest over the State of the Union address between President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a week old, and no one is blinking yet.
In a letter to Pelosi on Wednesday, Trump said he plans to deliver his State of the Union address in the House chamber next week, brushing aside the speaker’s advice to wait until a partial government shutdown is over.
“It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!” Trump wrote, formally accepting Pelosi’s invitation to give the speech in the traditional location.
Pelosi originally extended the invitation on Jan. 3, nearly two weeks into the partial government shutdown. She tried to rescind it a week ago, noting that both the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security are unfunded, thanks to the ongoing budget standoff over the president’s demand for a border wall.
“Given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week,” Pelosi suggested Trump postpone his speech. She also gave the president the option of delivering his message to Congress in writing — a common practice in the 19th century but one that would have denied Trump a major platform on prime-time television.
In his reply letter, Trump said he had been assured by DHS and the Secret Service that there would be “absolutely no problem regarding security” during the speech. He added that he looks forward to seeing Pelosi on Tuesday evening in the House chamber.
The president’s letter amounts to an affirmative RSVP for an invitation that was already withdrawn. His may not be the last word, however. The Democratic-controlled House still has to pass a resolution to hold a joint session with the Senate before hosting the president.