President Donald Trump will not be delivering his traditional State of the Union address on January 29, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) confirmed this week.
“The State of the Union is off,” Hoyer told CNN on Wednesday.
The confirmation comes hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to the president, telling him to reschedule the speech or deliver it in writing because of the ongoing government shutdown, which entered its 26th day Wednesday, and which has affected nearly 800,000 federal workers. Pelosi cited critical government agencies in charge of overseeing the event — namely U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security — that have been hobbled by the shutdown.
“Both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now — with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs,” Pelosi wrote. “Given the security concerns and unless the government re-opens this week, I suggest we work together to determine another suitable date after the government has re-opened.”
Despite what the headlines say, Pelosi is not asking. pic.twitter.com/ReZIZdzbGj
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) January 16, 2019
As speaker of the House, Pelosi holds the formal power to instigate the State of the Union by inviting the president to Congress to deliver a speech. Without her go-ahead, the State of the Union would not take place.
Pelosi’s letter added that, in 2018, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen designated the address a National Special Security Event which needs “the full resources of the Federal Government brought to bear.”
“The extraordinary demands presented by NSSEs require weeks of detailed planning,” Pelosi wrote. “Dozens of agencies [are] working together to prepare for the safety of all participants.”
The Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security aren’t the only federal security agencies affected by the shutdown. An estimated 43,000 Coast Guard employees — nearly 90 percent of the force — have been left without pay as well. Employees of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have also been without pay, leading to increased absences and extremely long lines at airports.
Overall, as ThinkProgress previously reported, more than 600,000 federal workers received pay stubs last week reading “$0,” and many furloughed contractors worry they may never see any back-pay at all, even after the government re-opens.
ThinkProgress has reached out to Pelosi’s office for additional comment on the State of the Union and will update with any response.