Several GOP senators would support postponing the State of the Union address set for January 29 if the government has not been fully reopened.
“It’s appropriate to not necessarily overburden furloughed workers – if it’s not necessary because we can reschedule it and I hope we would,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), a top ally of President Trump’s, told reporters on Wednesday.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday asking that Trump either postpone the address or give it in writing given the shutdown. She cited security concerns, noting the Department of Homeland Security is covered by the shutdown, as is the Secret Service.
Secret Service agents and many Homeland Security officials are working without pay during the shutdown.
“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that 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 on January 29th,” Pelosi wrote.
Cramer shot down the idea of President Trump submitting a written speech.
“It’s very important that he deliver the speech as a speech and not as a script of some sort,” he said.
Fellow GOP Senator Mike Rounds (S.D.) echoed Cramer’s sentiments.
“I’m hoping that we have the shutdown out of the way before then,” Rounds told Hill.TV.
He acknowledged that Pelosi “has the prerogative” to recommend a postponement.
“The president would probably recognize that she can make that request, I would prefer then, that if that is the case, that he delay it but he give it in person rather than trying to do a written report,” he said.
Liberal senators including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) agree with Pelosi that a postponement is appropriate.
Sanders, a potential 2020 presidential contender, told Hill.TV that the shutdown should be ended before a State of the Union address.
Cardin also said the “number one priority” should be opening the government.
—Molly K. Hooper