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Trump accepts Pelosi's invitation to deliver State of the Union on Feb. 5

The president's speech to Congress, originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 29, was delayed due to the government shutdown.
Image: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi listens to reporters on Capitol Hill on Jan. 25, 2019.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi listens to reporters on Capitol Hill on Jan. 25, 2019.Andrew Harnik / AP

President Donald Trump has formally accepted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's invitation to deliver the State of the Union address on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

"It is my great honor to accept," the president wrote in a letter addressed to the speaker on Monday. "We have a great story to tell and yet, great goals to achieve!"

The president's traditional remarks, originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 29, were delayed due to the government shutdown, something Pelosi referred to in her letter of invitation.

"When I wrote to you on January 23rd, I stated that we should work together to find a mutually agreeable date when government has reopened to schedule this year’s State of the Union address. In our conversation today, we agreed on February 5th," she wrote on Monday.

The new date marks a key opportunity for the president to speak to the American people amid an ongoing spending feud with Congress, which was temporarily put on hold Friday after the president said he would reopen the government for three weeks while border security talks continued. The move was widely seen as a major concession from the president, whose demand for $5.7 billion for his border wall — and Democrats' refusal to grant it — led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

In the 35 days that parts of the federal government went unfunded, some 800,000 federal workers were either told to stay home or work without pay, resulting in two missed paychecks for those employees, while the U.S. economy took an $11 billion hit, a report said on Monday.

As speaker, Pelosi can control the timing of the State of the Union address. Both chambers of Congress must pass a concurrent resolution setting the date and formally inviting the president to speak.

Pelosi's suggestion that Trump either delay his speech or submit it in writing, made on Jan. 16, came about three weeks into the shutdown fight. Pelosi cited the security burdens that the annual address to a joint session of Congress would place on a partially shuttered federal government.

Trump then barred the speaker, along with a House delegation, from using a military jet to visit Afghanistan and Brussels, saying she could fly commercial if she still wanted to go. Trump ultimately agreed to delay his remarks until the shutdown ended.

A State of the Union address has not been rescheduled since President Ronald Reagan chose to move his planned Jan. 28, 1986, speech when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up that morning. Reagan instead addressed the nation from the Oval Office that night and postponed the State of the Union.