House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, citing the government shutdown, urged President Donald Trump in a letter Wednesday to either reschedule his upcoming State of the Union address or to deliver it in writing to Congress.
"He can make it from the Oval Office if he wants," Pelosi, D-California, later told reporters.
In her letter to the president, Pelosi noted "security concerns" related to the partial shutdown's effect on the U.S. Secret Service, which is reponsible for security for the president's annual in-person address to a joint session of Congress.
That speech, which is nationally televised, currently is scheduled for Jan. 29.
"Both 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," wrote Pelosi.
"And since the start of modern budgeting in Fiscal Year 1977, a State of the Union address has never been delivered during a government shutdown," wrote the speaker, who also cited historical precedent for nearly all presidents delivering their address in writing prior to the early 20th Century.
"Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the 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 your to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to Congress on January 29th."
Hours after Pelosi's letter became public, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote in a tweet: "The Department of Homeland Security are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union."
The current shutdown stems directly from a political battle of wills between congressional Democrats and Trump over his demand for funding for a wall on the border with Mexico.