President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE said Wednesday he will forge ahead with plans to deliver the State of the Union address in the House chamber on Jan. 29, despite objections from Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: House must pass 3 major pieces of spending legislation this week Sunday shows preview: Pelosi announces date for infrastructure vote; administration defends immigration policies GOP should grab the chance to upend Pelosi's plan on reconciliation MORE (D-Calif.).
In a letter to Pelosi, Trump said he has been assured by national security officials there are “no security concerns regarding the State of the Union address” and “therefore, I will be honoring your invitation.”
“It would be so very sad for our country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!” Trump wrote.
President Trump’s letter to Speaker Pelosi on the State of the Union pic.twitter.com/B4QN9hDJnv— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) January 23, 2019
The president’s move puts the onus on Pelosi and congressional Democrats to decide whether to block his appearance next week.
Pelosi can nix Trump’s plans by refusing to hold a vote on a resolution that formally invites him to speak before a joint session of Congress in the House chamber.
Lawmakers have yet to pass such a resolution, which is considered a necessary step to hold the annual address in the Capitol.
Pelosi’s office has not yet responded to Trump’s letter.
Trump’s advisers suggested the president was essentially daring to Pelosi to prevent him from delivering the State of the Union.
“It would be, I think, remarkably petty of the Speaker to disinvite the president of the United States to address the nation that they both serve at the highest level,” White House counselor Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne ConwayCook Political Report shifts Virginia governor's race to 'toss-up' Overnight Defense & National Security — Iron Dome funding clears House Sean Spicer, Russ Vought sue Biden over Naval Board removal MORE said on Fox News.
Conway accused Pelosi of being “someone who doesn’t always have control of her temper about the president.”
The White House released Trump’s letter after a top Democrat said earlier Wednesday that it was all but certain party leaders would prevent Trump from delivering his address next week if the government remains partially closed.
“I can say that unless the government is reopened, it’s highly unlikely that the State of the Union is going to take place on the floor of the United States House of Representatives,” Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesDemocrats steamroll toward showdown on House floor Frederica Wilson rails against Haitian deportation flights, calls treatment 'inhumane' Pelosi signals she won't move .5T bill without Senate-House deal MORE (D-N.Y.), the head of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters in the Capitol.
House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol House Democrats set 'goal' to vote on infrastructure, social spending package next week Holding back on defensive systems for Israel could have dangerous consequences MORE (D-Md.) said Wednesday that Pelosi’s request for a delay is “reasonable,” since affected law enforcement officers will not be paid. But he also stressed that Democrats are confident that prominent figures expected to attend the State of the Union would be protected.
“The Capitol Police [and] Sergeant-at-Arms have assured us that we’ll be fully prepared if, in fact, there is a State of the Union address on the 29th,” Hoyer said during a press briefing in his Capitol office, shortly before Trump issued his letter to Pelosi.
Hoyer also seemed to endorse the idea that, if the president wants to speak on Tuesday he should be permitted to do so — shutdown or none.
“He’s the president of the United States. So if the president of the United States wants to speak to the Congress, the question was, ‘Was I willing to hear him?’ And the answer was, ‘Sure,’ ” Hoyer said.
The letter is the latest attempt at gamesmanship between Trump and Pelosi, who have battled for leverage in the shutdown fight that has lasted 33 days.
Pelosi last week requested that Trump postpone the speech, citing security concerns related to the shutdown. The Department of Homeland Security and the Secret Service, the agencies responsible for leading security planning, are both operating without funding.
The president responded by scrapping the Speaker’s planned congressional delegation travel to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan.
The White House, however, waited days to directly respond to Pelosi’s request to postpone his address.
On Tuesday, the White House hinted at its intentions by asking the House Sergeant-at-Arms to schedule a walk-through of the speech.
Pelosi first invited Trump to deliver the speech on Jan. 3, shortly after she took the Speaker’s gavel. The partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22.
— Mike Lillis contributed to this post, which was updated at 1:23 p.m.