President Trump should not delay the State of the Union address and should deliver it in person

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President Trump is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address on January 29. On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to President Trump asking him to deliver his State of the Union address in writing or to delay it until the government shutdown is resolved. According to Axios, Pelosi was quoted as saying, “[the] State of the Union demands “weeks of detailed planning” and cannot guarantee the safety of those present “with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs.” While the shutdown has impacted certain departments, Pelosi’s letter is more likely driven by her desire to delay the president’s address. As a result, President Trump should disregard her request and deliver the State of the Union as planned.

The State of the Union is Constitutionally mandated. According to Article II, Section 3, Clause 1, “The President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

Interestingly, there is nothing compelling the president to deliver the address from a specific location. In other words, the president can choose to deliver the address from a place of his choosing. For example, the president could deliver the address from the Oval Office or another venue. However, since the State of the Union address is supposed to be delivered before a Joint Session of Congress, the president would provide a copy of the letter/speech to Congress before his address.

A live address from the Oval Office could actually help the president as there would be no unnecessary interruptions that could delay the address (i.e. boos, standing ovations, etc.) Additionally, an address of this nature could allow the president more room for creativity. For example, he could bring in additional speakers and/or experts and/or utilize visuals and/or computer presentations during his speech to bolster/explain his points and Democrats would be unable to do anything about it. Finally, the various news networks would have to decide whether or not to cover the address. Those who decided against it would likely hurt themselves and their viewers. Given the vast number of opportunities that are available to the president because of Pelosi’s demand, the president is in a win-win situation. He can choose to deliver the address in the traditional fashion or he can choose to be more unconventional.

While Pelosi cites “security concerns” as the basis for her request, there is reason to question whether this is the sole motivating factor behind her recent letter. According to Politico, “Staff have been discussing the idea of postponing the State of the Union for months.” However, the shutdown is on its twenty-sixth day, which begs the question of why staffers were discussing postponement before the shutdown even started.

One possible reason for this is fairly easy to ponder. When the president delivers the State of the Union, the audience is enormous. The stage is entirely his and he is free to discuss the issues that are important to him and to the country, including border security. In this case, Pelosi’s demand is likely a sad attempt to prevent the president from utilizing the “grandest stage” to re-emphasize why the border wall is needed and how/why Democratic policies regarding the wall (and border security) are wrong, nonsensical and are hurting the American people. Also, given that Trump needs Congressional Democrats to approve funding for the wall, Pelosi’s request to postpone the State of the Union address until the shutdown ends could delay the address interminably if Democrats decide that they will never fund the wall. It is highly doubtful that Trump will allow Pelosi and Congressional Democrats to tie his hands like this.

President Trump should reject Pelosi’s demand and proceed with the State of the Union address on January 29th. In doing so, he need not feel compelled to follow tradition and/or common protocol and can be creative as to how he delivers the speech. Judging from the Democrats’ factually deficient and predictable response to Trump’s recent speech regarding the border crisis, it is not unreasonable to speculate that Pelosi wants to delay Trump’s upcoming address. President Trump should not fall for this ploy. He has a golden opportunity to speak to members of Congress and to the American public on the 29th and should not allow Pelosi to prevent him from delivering this Constitutionally-mandated address.

Mr. Hakim is a political writer and commentator and an attorney.  His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker and other online publications.

Twitter: @ThoughtfulGOP


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Should President Trump Declare a State of Emergency to Fund the Wall?

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President Trump has hinted at the possibility that he would declare a national emergency and attempt to fund the border wall with money that was earmarked for defense funding. Assuming that he is legally permitted to do so, the president will likely weigh several competing interests before finalizing his decision. If he decides to declare a national emergency, his decision is likely to garner support from Republicans and some Independents. If he doesn’t, he can still keep the pressure on Congressional Democrats.

According to FoxNews, President Trump is considering several sections of the National Emergency Laws, including 10 USC §284 and/or 10 USC §2808, to fund the wall. Section 284 permits the Secretary of Defense to provide support for counterdrug activities and activities to counter transactional organized crime. Section 2808 “permits the Secretary of Defense to undertake military construction projects, and to authorize the Secretaries of the military departments to undertake military construction projects…such projects may be taken only within the total amount of funds that have been appropriated for military construction.” Whether or not the president may rely on these provisions from a legal standpoint remains to be seen.

Putting aside the legalities, the decision to declare a national emergency and to use military funds for the wall (if legally permissible) could raise several issues. On the one hand, doing so would allow him to fulfill one of his major campaign promises and to appease those who have pushed for the wall and who have continued to support his vision despite the recent government shutdown.

On the other hand, while President Trump could very well have a legitimate reason to do so on this particular occasion, the decision could open up the floodgates for future presidents who may decide to use such resources (money) for construction projects (or other reasons) that Republicans may not agree with. However, other presidents have utilized this power in the past, so it is doubtful that President Trump would allow this possibility to serve as a deterrent.

Additionally, some could argue that if the president successfully declares a national emergency and uses military funds to build the wall, he could be giving Congressional Democrats an easy way out. To date, the president has stayed strong in his position that he would not put an end to the partial government shutdown until he received the necessary funding for the border wall, and that the shutdown could continue for a very long time. According to Dan Bongino, public support for the border wall has reached an all-time high. As Bongino pointed out in a recent article, a new Quinnipiac poll of 1,147 voters found that 43% now support a border wall and 54% oppose it. In August, support was at 38%, thereby reflecting a five-point jump in a relatively short period of time. While this is a legitimate point, declaring a national emergency would signal that the president is more concerned about securing the borders and less concerned about the possibility that Congressional Democrats “got off easy.” In essence, the president would be putting country before politics.

If President Trump decides to obtain money for the wall from funds that were earmarked for the military, it is unclear how this will look in the public eye. On the one hand, the president could argue that Democrats left him no choice but to use these funds (to build the wall) and that he did so in order to secure our country, end the partial shutdown and ensure that everyone who was affected by the shutdown is paid. Of course, others will try to portray the president’s use of such funds as a sign/act of selfishness and/or weakness where the commander-in-chief “caved” to Congressional Democrats.

The president is scheduled to address the nation tonight, where he will likely explain the current status of the partial shutdown, the border crisis and the reasons behind the need for a border wall. If he declares a national emergency, he will likely find support among many Republicans and some Independents. If not, and if he is persuasive, his speech will still keep the pressure directly on the shoulders of Congressional Democrats.

Mr. Hakim is a writer, commentator and an attorney.  His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker and other online publications.

Twitter: @ThoughtfulGOP