Trump to deliver State of the Union next Tuesday

WASHINGTON • President Donald Trump will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Feb 5, 10 days before the deadline for lawmakers in the House and the Senate to reach an agreement on a border security package to avert another government shutdown.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent an invitation to the President on Monday, after the two spoke for about 12 minutes by telephone in a conversation that she initiated, an aide said. Mr Trump later replied, agreeing to the date.

"We have a great story to tell and yet, great goals to achieve!" he wrote.

The invitation capped weeks of back and forth between the Speaker and the President over when, and whether, he could deliver the speech in the House chamber.

On Jan 23, in the middle of the 35-day government shutdown, Mrs Pelosi told the President she wanted to postpone the address, initially scheduled for yesterday, until after the government reopened, and even went as far as to suggest that he deliver the speech in writing.

Mr Trump retaliated by grounding the military plane that was supposed to take Mrs Pelosi and other lawmakers on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan. Then, when Mr Trump pressed ahead last week, insisting he wanted to give the speech on Jan 29, Mrs Pelosi disinvited him.

"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," Mrs Pelosi wrote on Monday in the letter.


"In our conversation today, we agreed on February 5th."

As part of their deal to end the shutdown, Mr Trump and congressional Democrats agreed that a conference committee of House and Senate appropriators would have until Feb 15 to come up with a border security package.

If they fail to reach an agreement, or come up with a plan that is not to Mr Trump's liking, the President has threatened to either shut down the government again or invoke emergency powers to circumvent Congress in obtaining money for a wall along the south-western border.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2019, with the headline 'Trump to deliver State of the Union next Tuesday'. Subscribe