The longest government shutdown in U.S. history is guaranteed to continue at least a bit longer.
On Wednesday, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, wrote to President Donald Trump that she will not permit “the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened.”
She added, “Again, I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened.”
The State of the Union was to take place January 29.
The letter came just hours after Trump, a Republican, dismissed Pelosi’s earlier suggestion that the speech should be delayed or simply sent in as a written copy. The president called the speech his “Constitutional duty.” He added there were no “security concerns” for the event.
Trump ended his letter by saying, “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!”
The U.S. Constitution states that the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union.” America’s first president, George Washington, established the tradition with his first yearly speech to Congress on January 8, 1790.
Washington made the speech in person in the Senate Chamber of Federal Hall in New York City. The city was the temporary seat of government at the time. The second U.S. president, John Adams, also gave his yearly speeches in person.
But Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president, chose to send his messages to Congress in writing. That began a tradition that lasted over one hundred years.
In 1913, President Woodrow Wilson personally addressed a joint session of Congress. And the tradition would become known as the “State of the Union” under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
By tradition, the House and the Senate must pass a resolution for a joint session of Congress to hear the president’s State of the Union. With her letter, Pelosi officially ended any chance for Trump to deliver the speech next week in the House of Representatives.
When asked for his reaction to Pelosi’s letter, Trump blamed the Democrats for the government shutdown. He added: “This will go on for a while. Ultimately, the American people will have their way, because they want to see no crime.”
The partial U.S. government shutdown began on December 22, 2018. It started because Trump asked for $5.7 billion in the federal spending plan to build a wall on the nation’s southern border with Mexico. The president said he would not sign any spending bills without money for the wall.
The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to consider two spending bills to reopen the government. One bill has the money for the wall and one does not. But both bills are not expected to receive the required 60 votes. The Democratic-controlled House has so far refused to give Trump the money.
Pelosi stated firmly, “We’re not doing a wall” and called the plan immoral.
About 800,000 federal government workers have been forced to stay at home or continue working without pay. Trump is now considering other places where he could deliver the speech.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
location - n. a place or position
ultimately - adv. at the end of the process, period of time, etc.
immoral - adj. evil or wrong