- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked President Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address, planned for Jan. 29, saying that given the government shutdown it would be difficult for Congress to host him now.

She said since the Secret Service is part of Homeland Security, and that department is one of nine that are in a partial shutdown, it has been “hamstrung.”

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date,” she said.

By tradition, the State of the Union is delivered each year to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber.

Congress approved funding for itself for 2019, so it is operating as usual.

That’s not true for Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service. A fight over that department’s funding for a border wall has sent the government into a partial shutdown.

Still, most Homeland Security employees are deemed essential and are at work — including most of the Secret Service — though employees aren’t being paid during the shutdown.

Mrs. Pelosi, in her letter, said the speech is considered a national special security event and puts “extraordinary demands” on the government, requiring weeks of planning among dozens of agencies.

She said no State of the Union has been delivered during a government shutdown for the past four decades.

Speaking to reporters in the Capitol, Mrs. Pelosi suggested the president give the speech from the Oval Office.

The House’s top Republican, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said her letter was “unbecoming” for the new speaker.

“I think Speaker Pelosi is playing politics,” he said.

And Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the Secret Service is “fully prepared” to handle a State of the Union address even amid the shutdown.

Mrs. Pelosi isn’t the first speaker to inject politics into the timing of presidential speeches.

In 2011, President Obama wanted to address Congress on jobs and the sluggish economy, and announced a date without consulting Capitol Hill.

Then-Speaker John A. Boehner asked him to delay the speech for a day so it didn’t conflict with a GOP presidential primary debate already slated for that day.

Mr. Obama agreed.

Mrs. Pelosi’s move comes as both sides trade blame for the shutdown and debate who is hurting public employees left out of work or without pay. On Tuesday, the White House signaled the shutdown could cut into economic growth this quarter.

Yet polling suggests the public just isn’t feeling the effects very much, with four in five people telling an ABC-Washington Post poll this weekend that they haven’t been affected.

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