White House presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway claimed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is only blocking President Donald Trump from giving the state of the union address from the Capitol because “she’s afraid.”
The president and the speaker have been feuding about the date and location of the state of the union address for the past few weeks — all via passive aggressive letters.
It started with Pelosi offering to host the state of the union at the Capitol on January 3. The date of this letter is important because the speaker sent it after the government entered a partial shutdown on December 22.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 4, 2019
As it became clear that the shutdown was not going to end anytime soon, Pelosi decided to rescind the invitation as a point of leverage, claiming that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could not properly secure the event due to the shutdown.
Today, I wrote to @realDonaldTrump recommending that we delay the State of the Union until after government re-opens, as the @SecretService, the lead federal agency for #SOTU security, faces its 26th day without funding. https://t.co/K2oL8WGvqo pic.twitter.com/g3fIlxDbbK
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 16, 2019
The claim that the event couldn’t be secured didn’t last long. As IJR previously reported, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen took to Twitter to say that Secret Service and DHS were prepared to secure the event despite the shutdown.
The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union. We thank the Service for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland.
— Sec. Kirstjen Nielsen (@SecNielsen) January 16, 2019
Because of the response from DHS, Trump issued a new letter to Pelosi. He noted that Pelosi had sent the original state of the union invitation after the shutdown had already started. With DHS ensuring security wasn’t compromised, he doubled down on his plans to give the address from the Capitol on January 29.
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 White House (@WhiteHouse) January 23, 2019
“Accordingly, there are no security concerns regarding the State of the Union Address. Therefore, I will be honoring your invitation, and fulfilling my Constitutional duty, to deliver important information to the people and Congress of the United States of America regarding the State of our Union.
I look forward to seeing you on the evening on January 29th in the Chamber of the House of Representatives. 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!”
Although this letter addressed Pelosi’s main concerns about the event, she didn’t fold. The speaker claimed that it didn’t matter when she sent the first letter because “no one thought that the government would still be shut down.”
She then denied that her letter rescinding the invitation to the Capitol was about security, rather, she claimed it was about picking a new date for the speech when the government reopened. She doubled down on her decision to block Trump from speaking at the Capitol.
This afternoon, I sent @realDonaldTrump a letter informing him that the House will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened. https://t.co/r1oad0xEAh pic.twitter.com/kGEbayx95u
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) January 23, 2019
Conway claimed this commotion was only because Pelosi is “afraid” of her own base.
“She’s someone who doesn’t always have control of her temper about the president, but she also doesn’t have control of her own chamber. I think she’s afraid that people are not going to show up and that’s embarrassing to her. She basically needs to say to her caucus, ‘I want you to stay at the state of the union.”
Conway noted that the confusion about the date and the location for the address has made things difficult for those planning to attend, including the guests of first lady Melania Trump.
“The first lady’s inviting guests to the state of the union, as is the custom for every first lady,” explained Conway. “If Speaker Pelosi wants to disinvite those people, as well, or not give us enough seats to invite all these guests who represent the best of America and the best of America’s spirit, then she’s going to have some explaining to do.”
It isn’t clear what the next step in the State of the Union saga will be. Neither side seems willing to back down from their current positions.