House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insisted Thursday that she is “not denying” President Donald Trump a platform to address the American public with her request to postpone the State of the Union until after the shutdown is over or for the President to deliver it in writing.
“I’m not denying him a platform at all,” Pelosi said at her weekly news conference at the Capitol. “I’m saying, let’s get a date when government is open.”
Taking a jab at the President, Pelosi added, “Let’s pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it’s ok not to pay people who do work. I don’t. My caucus doesn’t either.”
The House speaker stood by her stance on rescheduling the speech after sending a letter to the President the day before asking for the State of the Union address to be at a time after the shutdown is over or for Trump to deliver it in writing, citing security concerns as a result of the ongoing shutdown, which has impacted roughly a quarter of the federal government.
The administration – and the Department of Homeland Security in particular – has pushed back on the idea that security could be impaired during the address as a result of the shutdown.
“The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a tweet on Wednesday. Pelosi cited a letter from Nielsen that detailed security risks for political function last year in her initial request to reschedule the State of the Union speech.
Pelosi would not say Thursday if she would allow the speech to go forward on January 29 if the President tells her that he does not want to move the date of the speech or give the address in written form.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Pelosi said. “But we haven’t heard. Very silent. More than 24 hours … We haven’t heard yet,” she said.
The partial government shutdown — which is now the longest shutdown in US history — is on its 27th day with no end in sight.
The key sticking point in the shutdown fight has been the President’s demand for more than $5 billion in funding for a border wall.
Congressional Democrats have maintained that while they support border security measures, they will not provide any new money for a wall at the border.
So far, nothing has broken the impasse between the two sides and efforts at negotiation have not yielded any significant result since government partially shut down on December 22.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
CNN’s Manu Raju, Maegan Vazquez, Ashley Killough and David Siegel contributed to this report.