Trump to deliver State of the Union on Feb 5: Pelosi

Trump to deliver State of the Union on Feb 5: Pelosi

WASHINGTON: The top Democrat in Congress said on Monday (Jan 28) that President Donald Trump has agreed on Feb 5 as the new date to deliver his State of the Union address, now that the US government has fully reopened.

The date is just 10 days before the deadline for lawmakers and the president to agree on a border security package that averts a subsequent government shutdown.

"I invite you to deliver your State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress on Feb 5, 2019 in the House Chamber," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to Trump, saying they had mutually agreed on the date.

Pelosi had originally invited Trump to deliver his speech this Tuesday, but disinvited him over security concerns during the government shutdown and told the president there would be no address to Congress until federal operations resumed.

The spat between the president and his main adversary in Congress came at the height of the partial government shutdown that left some 800,000 federal workers without pay for five weeks.

The employees will be paid retroactively, but the disruption caused the US economy to take a US$11 billion hit, the independent Congressional Budget Office said in a report on Monday.

Trump had insisted that Congress fund his long-sought wall on the US border with Mexico to the tune of US$5.7 billion, declaring it a top national security priority.

But Pelosi and her Democrats stood refused to budge. Trump eventually blinked, and signed a temporary measure opening the government's shuttered agencies, but only until Feb 15.

If the opposing sides have not come to an agreement on a plan for US border security by that date, the same agencies could be shut down once more.

Trump at the weekend signaled that border wall negotiations "will not be easy," with "both parties very dug in."

"Only fools, or people with a political agenda, don't want a Wall or Steel Barrier to protect our Country from Crime, Drugs and Human Trafficking," he tweeted on Saturday. "It will happen - it always does!"

Shortly before Pelosi made her letter to Trump public, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said at a press briefing that the president "looks forward to addressing the American people" in his annual speech before Congress.

Source: AFP/de