Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump declared his annual State of the Union address “canceled” on Wednesday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent word she would bar him from delivering the speech in the House chamber while parts of the government remain shut down.
The back-and-forth escalated one of the rancorous subplots of the extended standoff over border security that has shuttered several government agencies and forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers to go unpaid.
Even as the two leaders sent each other letters dripping with barely veiled disgust, they did not plan to meet face-to-face and haven’t spoken directly in weeks.
After receiving Pelosi’s message, Trump railed against Democrats and indicated he would announce plans for an alternative address in due course. Officials have suggested options including a speech from the White House or a rally outside of Washington.
“The State of the Union speech has been canceled by Nancy Pelosi because she doesn’t want to hear the truth. She doesn’t want the American public to hear what’s going on, and she’s afraid of the truth,” Trump said from the Cabinet Room after Pelosi made her intentions known in a letter.
Trump bemoaned the decision, calling it a “great blotch on the incredible country we love.”
“It’s a great, great, horrible mark,” Trump said.
Trump had insisted earlier in a letter to Pelosi that he was planning on presenting his annual address from the chamber of the US House next week as planned, essentially daring the body’s top Democrat to formally disinvite him from delivering the yearly message.
Hours later, Pelosi appeared to take the dare, saying she would refuse to bring up for a vote a measure that would allow Trump to speak.
“I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until the government has opened,” Pelosi wrote.