President Donald Trump says he looks forward to delivering his State of the Union address in the House chamber on January 29, despite being strongly discouraged from doing so by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“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 the Union,” Trump said in a letter to Pelosi.
Earlier this month Pelosi had invited Trump to deliver the speech on January 29 but last week she urged him to postpone it or submit it to lawmakers. She expressed security concerns, noting the U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security are part of the one-quarter of the U.S. government remaining unfunded since late December.
“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!” Trump said in his letter Wednesday.
White House officials had earlier said plans were also underway for the annual address to be made from a different location – including at a political rally – depending on whether the partial shutdown of the U.S. government persists.
The president is required to annually submit to Congress a report on the nation, but there is no requirement that it be an address before both the House and Senate.
Trump’s first State of the Union address a year ago lasted 80 minutes, making it one of the longest such speeches in U.S. history.
The State of the Union speech has been a prime-time televised live address from the Capitol only since the era of President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s. He moved it from earlier in the day to the evening for a maximum number of TV viewers.
Franklin Roosevelt, the country’s only four-term president (before term limits were introduced in 1951), was the first to begin referring to it as a “State of the Union” message during World War II and the name was formally adopted by his successor, Harry Truman, in 1947, the first year it was televised. Prior to that it was referred to as the Annual Message.
In 1913, Woodrow Wilson revived the earlier practice of delivering it in person. It was first broadcast on radio in 1923 by Calvin Coolidge.
Only two presidents have never presented such an annual message or speech: William Henry Harrison who died within a month of his 1841 inauguration and James Garfield, who was assassinated in 1881 only six months after taking office.