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 TrumpHouse panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House panel votes against curtailing Insurrection Act powers after heated debate House panel votes to constrain Afghan drawdown, ask for assessment on 'incentives' to attack US troops 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 JeffriesReparations bill gains steam following death of George Floyd Karen Bass's star rises after leading police reform push The Hill's 12:30 Report: Supreme Court ruling marks big win for abortion rights groups 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 PelosiHouse votes unanimously to extend deadline for coronavirus small-business loan program Overnight Defense: House panel votes to ban Confederate flag on all Pentagon property | DOD report says Russia working to speed US withdrawal from Afghanistan | 'Gang of Eight' to get briefing on bounties Thursday OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House approves .5T green infrastructure plan | Rubio looks to defense bill to block offshore drilling, but some fear it creates a loophole | DC-area lawmakers push for analysis before federal agencies can be relocated 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.