In an escalating personal confrontation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told President Donald Trump on Wednesday that he would not be allowed to give his scheduled State of the Union Address to a Joint Session of Congress until a partial government shutdown has ended, an option that the President said would be 'very sad' for the nation.
"I look forward to welcoming you to the House on a mutually agreeable date for this address when government has been opened," the Speaker wrote in a letter to the President, as she said the House would not approve a resolution authorizing a speech by Mr. Trump in the House chamber at this time.
Pelosi's response came several hours after the President had sent his own letter to the Speaker, making clear that he planned to show up to speak to lawmakers on January 29.
“It would be so very sad our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!” the President wrote.
The dueling letters came amid the increasingly bitter debate over the longest government funding lapse in modern history, which seems likely to block paychecks again on Friday for some 800,000 federal workers.
"I'm not surprised," the President said during a White House photo opportunity when asked about the Speaker's response. "It's really a shame what's happening with the Democrats. They've become radicalized."
In the halls of Congress, GOP lawmakers saw no reason why the President shouldn't be allowed to speak to the nation from the House chamber.
"He asked me yesterday what I thought about that," said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). "I think he ought to come, I think he ought to give the State of the Union."
Democrats saw something different.
"My instinct is that this exchange of letters is an intentional distraction from the fact that people are about to miss their second paycheck and the economy is slowing down," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI).
The first missed paycheck for most federal workers was on January 11; the next one will be this Friday.