Nancy Pelosi postpones President Trump's State of the Union

Posted at 2:40 PM, Jan 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-23 15:40:39-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is officially postponing President Donald Trump's State of the Union address until the government is fully reopened.

The California Democrat told Trump in a letter Wednesday the Democratic-controlled House won't pass the required measure for him to give the nationally televised speech from the House floor.

Pelosi acted just hours after Trump notified her that he was planning to deliver the speech next Tuesday in line with her original invitation.

"I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened," she said.

Pelosi's moves have left the White House scrambling to devise an alternative plan for the speech, which is one of the president's top opportunities to lay out his agenda to the public.

Meanwhile, on the 33rd day of the shutdown, House Democrats are putting forward a new proposal to end the government shutdown, aiming to lure Trump away from his demand for a border wall by offering billions of new dollars for other border security measures.

The offer is a possible path toward a compromise even though it does not have money for his wall.

The Democratic proposal is expected to go beyond the $1.6 billion the White House initially requested from Congress for border security, before Trump demanded $5.7 billion for his long-promised wall. The proposal is still being drafted.

The White House signaled earlier that it was open to counteroffers to Trump's recent proposals.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic caucus, told reporters after the party's morning caucus meeting that Democrats are willing to boost personnel, technology and other enhancements at the border.

"House Democrats, like the American people, support 21st Century border security," Jeffries said. But Democrats remain opposed to what Jeffries called "a medieval border wall. That is a 5th Century solution to a 21st Century problem."

The potential new offer from Democrats comes during severe disruptions in some federal services as the longest government shutdown in U.S. history stretches into a second month and 800,000 federal workers are scheduled to miss another paycheck on Friday.

Trump has proposed having Congress fund his $5.7 billion demand for a border wall with Mexico in exchange for temporary deportation relief for some immigrants, including young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally with their parents. Their legal status is now at risk because Trump is seeking to end the program that protects them.

A White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said Trump would be willing to go along with permanent legal status for those young immigrants, but probably not a path to citizenship.

The Senate this week is set to vote on dueling proposals - a Republican one that would give Trump money for the wall and one from Democrats that would re-open government through Feb. 8, with no wall money, giving bargainers time to talk about it.
Both proposals are likely to fail to reach the 60-vote threshold needed in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority.

But the votes are forcing a political reckoning for senators: side with Trump or vote to end the shutdown temporarily and keep negotiating.

Democrats dismissed Trump's plan, which included temporary protections for the young immigrants but also harsh new curbs on Central Americans seeking safe haven in the U.S.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the GOP plan's immigration proposals were "even more radical" than their past positions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of preferring "political combat with the president" to resolving the partial federal shutdown, which stretched into its 33rd day Wednesday.

With their new proposal, House Democrats are not wading into a broader immigration debate, but are focused on appropriations to pay for border security in different ways, said a senior Democratic aide who was unauthorized to discuss ongoing talks.

Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina suggested the price tag of the new plan could reach the $5.7 billion Trump wants on border security - but it would be spent differently.

"More judges, more border control, additional technology - these are the kinds of things that we are going to be putting forward, and I think can be done using the figure that the president has put on the table," Clyburn said.

The aide, however, said the money would not reach that level.

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