In a surprise move, Nancy Pelosi pushes Donald Trump to delay speech

Washington: With the partial US government shutdown dragging into its 26th day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has urged President Donald Trump to reschedule his State of the Union address on January 29.

US President Donald Trump speaks from the Oval Office of the White House.Credit:Bloomberg

The White House had no immediate comment on Pelosi's request, and her letter appeared to have taken aides by surprise.

"Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress," Pelosi wrote.

In response, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Twitter her department and the Secret Service were prepared to handle a presidential speech at the Capitol.

Representative Jim Jordan of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative Republicans allied to Trump, said Pelosi's move showed Democrats are "more focused on stopping the president than they are on serving the country."

Meanwhile, both sides in the long-running conflict sought to ratchet up the pressure.

Democratic senators huddled on the outdoor steps leading to the Senate in 3.9-degree Celsius, windy Washington weather, holding large photographs of constituents furloughed by the shutdown or otherwise affected by it.

At the same time, the president hosted a bipartisan group of House members to discuss finding a solution to the impasse. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the meeting was constructive.

Democratic members who met with Trump said they called on him to end the shutdown and then talk about the issues dividing them.

A handful of Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham and Lisa Murkowski, are circulating a bipartisan draft letter to Trump asking him to support a measure that would reopen the government for three weeks while they work on funding legislation that would address his concerns about border security.

Trump is expected to sign legislation that would ensure 800,000 federal employees will receive back pay when the government reopens.

Some government employees are being asked to return to work after being initially told to stay home during the shutdown, although they will not be paid on schedule.

Both the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday said they would call back nearly 50,000 employees to handle tax returns, refunds and other tasks or to work in aviation safety inspection.


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