Trump to deliver State of the Union address on Feb 5

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES)- President Donald Trump will deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Feb 5, ten days before the deadline for lawmakers in the House and the Senate to reach an agreement on a border security package to avert another government shutdown.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent an invitation to the president on Monday (Jan 28), after the two spoke for about 12 minutes by telephone in a conversation that she initiated, an aide said. Trump later replied, agreeing to the date.

“We have a great story to tell and yet, great goals to achieve!” he wrote.

The invitation capped weeks of back and forth between the speaker and the president over when, and whether, he could deliver the speech in the House chamber.

On Jan 23, in the middle of the 35-day government shutdown, Pelosi told the president she wanted to postpone the address, initially scheduled for Tuesday (Jan 29), until after the government reopened, and even went as far as to suggest that he deliver the speech in writing.

Trump retaliated by grounding the military plane that was supposed to take Pelosi and other lawmakers on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan. Then, when Trump pressed ahead last week, insisting he wanted to give the speech on Tuesday, Pelosi disinvited him.

“When I wrote to you on January 23rd, I stated that we should work together to find a mutually agreeable date when government has reopened to schedule this year’s State of the Union address,” Pelosi wrote on Monday in the letter. “In our conversation today, we agreed on February 5th.”

As part of their deal to end the shutdown, Trump and congressional Democrats agreed that a conference committee of House and Senate appropriators would have until Feb 15 to come up with a border security package. If they fail to reach an agreement, or come up with a plan that is not to Trump’s liking, the president has threatened to either shut down the government again or invoke emergency powers to circumvent Congress in obtaining money for a wall along the southwestern border.

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