The State of the Union 2019 was originally scheduled to air tonight at , but it has since been postponed. It will not be on TV tonight, and will instead air on February 5. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi postponed the State of the Union amid what turned out to be a 35-day partial government shutdown over Trump’s demand for border-wall funding. This is the first known time that a speaker had rescinded an invite to deliver the State of the Union.
Pelosi first extended an invite to President Trump for January 29, which he agreed to, but Pelosi changed her mind, urging Trump to postpone the speech because of the partial government shutdown. “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week,” she wrote to the president, “I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after the 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 2019 Has Been Postponed to February 5
“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 added in a statement she later posted on Twitter. “In our conversation today, we agreed on February 5th. Therefore, I invite you to deliver your State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress on February 5, 2019 in the House Chamber.”
Shortly after receiving the updated invite, President Trump accepted. “Thank you for your letter inviting me to deliver the State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, February 5, 2019,” he wrote. “It is my great honor to accept. We have a great story to tell and yet, great goals to achieve. I look forward to seeing you on the 5th.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Urged the President to Delay the State of the Union Due to the Partial Government Shutdown
While presidents like George Washington and John Adams delivered the State of the Union in person, the speech was delivered in writing for over a century. It wasn’t until 1913 that President Woodrow Wilson began the practice of delivering a speech to Congress as a way of rallying the nation. The last time a president delivered the State of the Union in writing was Jimmy Carter in 1981.
The last time a State of the Union address was moved or delayed was in 1986, when President Ronald Reagan postponed the speech after the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. President Reagan decided addressed the nation from the Oval Office that evening and delivered his State of the Union speech a week later.