House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, just hours after reclaiming the speaker’s gavel, formally invited President Donald Trump on Thursday to give his second State of the Union address.
“In the spirit of our Constitution, I invite you to deliver your State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 in the House Chamber,” Pelosi wrote in her letter to the president on Thursday evening.
The speech will be Trump’s third to a Joint Session of Congress — his initial appearance, on Feb. 28, 2017, was weeks after his inauguration and not considered a formal State of the Union — and his first time in a newly divided Washington where Democrats control the House. In a not-so-subtle nod at the new power dynamics, Pelosi added in her note: “The Constitution established the legislative, executive and judicial branches as co-equal branches of government, to be a check and balance on each other.”
The California Democrat has repeatedly pointed out that the Trump administration should expect renewed oversight from Capitol Hill and that the Constitution puts her on an equal footing with the president. Trump, for his part, has previously said that Democrats must choose between cutting deals and lobbing subpoenas at the administration.
On the campaign trail, Trump talked up the possibility of deals on areas like infrastructure spending and prescription drug prices, but it remains to be seen whether he will seriously pursue such measures in a legislative agenda and whether Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his Republican members would support them.
The first days of a split Congress may not bode well: Trump is refusing to back down from his demand for funding for a border wall, and Pelosi has said House Democrats will not give him a dime for his central campaign promise. One-fourth of the federal government, meanwhile, remains shut down because of the two-weeklong impasse.
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine
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