Trump moving ahead with State of the Union speech next week

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WASHINGTON | The White House is progressing with plans for President Donald Trump to deliver his State of the Union speech next week in front of a joint session of Congress — despite a letter of request from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asking he delay it.

President Donald Trump, center, Vice President Mike Pence, left, escorted by Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, right, visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

The White House sent an email to the House Sergeant-at-Arms on Tuesday asking to plan for a walk-through for the speech in anticipation of a Jan. 29 delivery.

It’s the latest move in a game of political brinksmanship between Trump and the House Speaker as they remain stuck in a stalemate in an increasingly personal standoff over Trump’s demand for border wall funding that has caused a partial government shutdown that is now in its second month.

The gamesmanship began last week when Pelosi sent a letter to Trump suggesting that he either deliver the speech in writing or postpone it until after the partial government shutdown is resolved, citing security concerns. But the White House maintains Pelosi never formally rescinded her invitation, and is, in essence, calling her bluff.

The president cannot speak in front of a joint session of Congress without both chambers’ explicit permission. A resolution agreed to by both chambers specifies the date and time of a joint session of the House and the Senate for receiving an address from the president.

At the same time, the White House is continuing to work on contingency plans to give Trump a back-up in case the joint-session plans fall through. Officials have been considering a list of potential alternative venues, including a rally-style event, an Oval office address or a speech before the Senate Chamber, according to two others familiar with the planning.

Multiple versions are also being drafted to suit the final venue.