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Homeland Security Sec Quashes Pelosi’s Claim That the SOTU Must Be Cancelled Due to the Shutdown

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rescinded her invitation to President Donald Trump to deliver his State of the Union address by citing security concerns, but Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen didn’t echo her claims.

In her letter, Pelosi claimed that the president could not give his address in person on January 29 because of the government shutdown. The partial shutdown is in its fourth week, and from the looks of this letter, it is expected to continue on for a while.

The speaker noted that the security efforts for the event were being headed by Secret Service under DHS. She noted that Nielsen followed the standard procedure and declared the event a National Special Security Events, which requires that “the full resources of the Federal Government to be brought to bear.”

Pelosi wrote:

“[B]oth the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now – with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.

Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th.”

The State of the Union is an important event to secure. It is one of the few occasions where nearly every major political figure from Congress, the White House, and the Supreme Court are in one room, so getting the security right is important.

But Sec. Nielsen denied that the department wasn’t prepared to secure the event, no matter the status of the shutdown.

In response to Nielsen tweet, many questioned Pelosi’s motives for claiming there was a security risk without consulting the DHS secretary, who feels otherwise.

Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent, called Pelosi’s remarks “grotesque” and “pathetic.”

For now, it isn’t clear what the White House will do about the State of the Union address. They could reschedule or send a letter, as Pelosi suggested, or they could get creative and give the speech anyway.

As IJR previously reported, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has suggested that the president give the speech from the Senate.

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