WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday that she won't authorize President Donald Trump to give his annual State of the Union address in the House chamber until the partially closed federal government is re-opened, just hours after Trump insisted in a letter to her that he would deliver the speech as planned Jan. 29.
"I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the president's State of the Union address in the House chamber until the government has opened," Pelosi wrote in a return letter to Trump. "I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened."
Trump fired back during brief remarks at the White House.
"The State of the Union speech has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth. She doesn’t want the American public to hear what’s going on," he said. "Great blotch on the incredible country we that all love. Great, great horrible mark."
Asked if he'd be giving a speech Tuesday night, the president responded that announcement would be forthcoming soon.
“We’ll be doing something in the alternative, and we’ll be talking to you about that at a later date," he said.
The president is not allowed to speak in the chamber — the traditional spot for the State of the Union address — unless the House and Senate pass a resolution allowing him to do so. After the letter's release, Pelosi did not respond to questions from reporters about what would happen if Trump ignored the message and came Tuesday regardless.
Pelosi had initially invited Trump to give the speech later this month, but she sent him a letter last week asking him to delay his remarks or submit them in writing. She cited concerns over security because of the partial government shutdown, which affects the Department of Homeland Security.
Earlier Wednesday, Trump told Pelosi in a letter that he would be "honoring" Pelosi's original invitation for him to give the speech on Jan. 29 and that the Department of Homeland Security and Secret Service had dismissed her concern that security could be a problem given the furlough of some federal workers since Dec. 22.
"There are no security concerns regarding the State of the Union Address," Trump wrote. "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," he added.
Later at the White House, he again dismissed security concerns. "If we can handle Iraq, we can handle the middle of Washington," he said.
The back-and-forth between Pelosi and Trump, who grounded her planned military flight to Afghanistan last week in a move the White House insisted was unrelated to the State of the Union tiff, has been a dramatic subplot to their fight over re-opening the government and Trump's demand that Congress provide $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.