Fireworks over the speech shot back and forth between the Capitol and White House as the month-long partial government shutdown shows no signs of ending. Democrats are now preparing their own border security package shunning Trump's wall.
In a high-stakes case of dare and double-dare, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi served notice on Wednesday that President Donald Trump won't be allowed to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress next week.
She took the step after Trump said he planned to show up in spite of Democratic objections to the speech taking place with big swaths of the government shut down.
Denied that grand venue, Trump said he will give the State of the Union speech 'when the shutdown is over'.
"I think that's a great blotch on the incredible country that we all love," the US president earlier said. "It's a great, great horrible mark."
Pelosi told Trump the House won't approve a resolution allowing him to address Congress until the shutdown, now in its 33rd day, ends. Trump shot back that Pelosi was afraid of hearing the truth.
Shot down by the shutdown
Fireworks over the speech shot back and forth between the Capitol and the White House as the month-long partial government shutdown showed no signs of ending and with about 800,000 federal workers facing the prospect of going without their second paycheck in a row come Friday and losing some health benefits.
Trump says he won't end the shutdown until his demand for $5.7 billion for a wall with Mexico is met.
House Democrats, feeling pressure to display their vision for border security, are preparing a package that would ignore Trump's demand for $5.7 billion for a wall with Mexico and would instead pay for other ideas aimed at protecting the border.
Though, details of Democrats' border security plan and its cost remained a work in progress on Wednesday. Party leaders said it would include money for scanning devices and other technological tools for improving security at ports of entry and along the boundary, plus funds for more border agents and immigration judges.
"If his $5.7 billion is about border security, then we see ourselves fulfilling that request, only doing it with what I like to call using a smart wall," said No. 3 House Democratic leader Jim Clyburn.
The Senate on Thursday votes on rival plans for reopening federal agencies and paying 800,000 federal workers who are days from missing yet another paycheck.
Republicans would couple ending the shutdown with financing Trump's wall and revamping immigration laws. Democrats would reopen agency doors for three weeks while bargainers seek an accord.
Both faced likely defeat.
The drama surrounding the State of the Union address began last week when Pelosi asked Trump to make other plans but stopped short of denying him the chamber for his address. Trump called her bluff Wednesday in a letter, saying he intended to come anyway.
Pelosi quickly squelched the speech.
Trump informs Pelosi he's coming to deliver to State of Union on 1/29, though Speaker has asked him to postpone due to security concerns. Pelosi still has unilateral power to call it off pic.twitter.com/ZZ8intIb0r— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) January 23, 2019
The president cannot speak in front of a joint session of Congress without both chambers' explicit permission. A resolution needs to be approved by both chambers specifying the date and time for receiving an address from the president.
The Constitution states only that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union," meaning the president can speak anywhere he chooses or give his update in writing. The address has been delayed before.
Ronald Reagan's 1986 State of the Union address was postponed after the Challenger space shuttle exploded in flight on Jan. 28 of that year.
But there is no precedent for a State of the Union invitation being rescinded.
Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter issued their final messages in print. As Eisenhower recovered from a heart attack in 1956, he prepared a seven-minute, filmed summary of the message from his retreat in Key West, Florida, that was broadcast nationwide. Richard Nixon sent a printed message in 1973; his staff said an oral message would have come too soon after his second inaugural address.
White House officials have been working on a backup plan to have Trump give the speech somewhere else if Democrats blocked access to the House chamber. Nevertheless, they were rattled by Pelosi's move Wednesday and expressed concern it would further sour shutdown negotiations.
Officials have been considering alternative venues, including a speech in the Senate chamber and a visit to a state on the southern border.
The White House and Democratic lawmakers have been accusing one another of pettiness since Pelosi raised doubts about the speech. Trump followed up by revoking her use of a military plane for a congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan.
North Carolina's House speaker, Tim Moore, invited Trump to deliver the speech in the North Carolina House chamber. Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield has offered his state capitol. Trump spoke with both of them this week, according to Moore's office and a tweet from Chatfield.