The debacle over Trump being invited, disinvited and then barred from delivering the State of the Union address breathes new life into the discussion of an otherwise routine event.
The State of the Union address is required by the U.S. Constitution. It has evolved from just a written statement to Congress, to an in person one and ultimately as a television broadcast for anyone to watch.
The annual speech is often predictable with topics including jobs, taxes, the economy and party platform issues. Honestly, it can be a bit boring too.
For many years now, it’s also been a display of party solidarity as Congress members aligned with the president applaud at the end of virtually every sentence.
The State of the Union address shouldn’t be a partisan pep rally.
It’s also increasingly difficult every year to remember what a previous speech even focused on. Trump’s 2018 address talked about immigration reform but only touched on the border wall.
But the border wall and its funding are the topic du jour as they’re inextricably linked as the main cause of the government shutdown. Any speech during it is likely to result in Trump focusing on the shutdown and the wall.
He has already had plenty of time to speak about the wall.
The State of the Union does not need to turn into a repeat of that.
As the shutdown progressed, a public back and forth between Trump and House speaker Nancy Pelosi led to the rescinding of his invitation to the House chamber.
Pelosi first cited potential security issues due to the shutdown and that the address has never been delivered during a shutdown. She asked Trump in a letter to reschedule from the original date of Jan. 29 or delivering it in writing as it had been done years ago.
Unsurprisingly, Trump fired back after Pelosi’s letter.
“The State of the Union speech has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth. She doesn’t want the American public to hear what’s going on, and she’s afraid of the truth,” he said.
After toying with the idea of an alternate venue, Trump eventually agreed to delaying the speech until after the shutdown has ended.
Government workers can breathe a sigh of relief, at least temporarily, as the shutdown was put to a stop for three weeks. However, the address will still be delayed until Feb. 5.
There is no subtlety in the political games and partisanship going on here, but planning a delay due to the shutdown was the right call. However, security issues and precedent weren’t the most compelling arguments for a delay because there was a simpler reason.
Government workers were missing paychecks and deserve a permanent solution. The State of the Union shouldn’t serve as an opportunity for the president to push his desired solution as political games create more and more hardship for government employees.
Hopefully, the drama surrounding the address is in the rear-view mirror, and a permanent solution to the shutdown comes soon.