Top Dem: ‘Highly unlikely’ State of the Union will happen amid shutdown

The head of the House Democratic Caucus said Wednesday that it’s all but certain party leaders will prevent President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE from giving his State of the Union address if the government remains closed on its scheduled Jan. 29 date.

“It’s absolutely not clear … what his present intention is,” Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesLawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts On The Money: Fed chief warns Congress on deficits | Trump blames Powell after Dow dips slightly | Trump withdraws nomination of former US attorney for Treasury post Jeffries: Trump budget is a 'declaration of war on the American dream' MORE (D-N.Y.) told reporters in the Capitol. “But 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.”

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The remarks are the latest volley in the back-and-forth between the White House and House Democrats over the president’s annual speech to Congress and the country.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — California monitoring 8,400 people for coronavirus | Pence taps career official to coordinate response | Dems insist on guardrails for funding Overnight Energy: Murkowski, Manchin unveil major energy bill | Lawmakers grill EPA chief over push to slash agency's budget | GOP lawmaker accuses Trump officials of 'playing politics' over Yucca Mountain Hillicon Valley — Presented by Facebook — Federal court rules tech giants can censor content | Trump upends surveillance fight | Senate passes bill barring federal funds for Huawei equipment MORE (D-Calif.), upon taking the gavel on Jan. 3, had invited Trump to deliver his speech on Jan. 29. Last week, however, Pelosi suggested the address be postponed until the partial shutdown has ended, citing security concerns surrounding the high-profile event.

Pelosi did not rescind her initial invitation, but asked the president to “work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened.”

In response, Trump canceled a scheduled trip by Pelosi and other Democrats to Belgium and Afghanistan. He did not address the State of the Union request directly.

And on Tuesday, the White House asked the House Sergeant-at-Arms for a walk-through of the Capitol in preparation for the speech — the clearest signal yet that Trump is still planning to deliver the address on its scheduled date.

While Pelosi has not responded to the walk-through request, Jeffries’s remarks strongly suggest the Speaker is not prepared to allow it to happen.