Nielsen: Secret Service prepared to secure State of the Union


The Trump administration on Wednesday pushed back on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) claim that “security concerns” caused by the partial government shutdown should force the postponement of President Trump’s State of the Union address.

“The Department of Homeland Security and the US Secret Service are fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Twitter.

Nielsen praised the service, which her department oversees, “for their mission focus and dedication and for all they do each day to secure our homeland.”

The secretary’s comments are the administration’s first public response to Pelosi’s argument that the Jan. 29 address should be pushed back.
In a letter to Trump, Pelosi pointed out that Secret Service agents and other personnel responsible for securing the speech are not being paid during the partial shutdown and argued it could pose a security risk.

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless the government reopens this week, I suggest we work together to determine another suitable date after the government has reopened for this address,” she wrote.

Pelosi also suggested Trump could instead deliver the address in writing.

The White House has yet to directly respond to the Speaker’s request to move the date, though Nielsen’s statement indicates Trump is not inclined to grant it.

White House officials have been considering using the president’s annual address to the nation to admonish Democrats over the shutdown and their opposition to Trump’s request for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall.

But others have warned Trump that he faces political danger as the shutdown, which has already entered a record-setting 26th day, drags on.

Roughly 800,000 workers have already missed paychecks due to the shutdown.

Pelosi argued the lack of funding for the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will hamper security planning because “critical departments” are being “hamstrung by furloughs.”

She wrote that Nielsen last year designated the address, which is attended by the vice president, Cabinet officials, lawmakers, military leaders and Supreme Court justices, a special national security event that requires the “full resources of the federal government to be brought to bear,” quoting Nielsen’s own words.

More than 80 percent of the Secret Service workforce is considered excepted or exempt and are working during the shutdown, according to a DHS planning document published last month.

The Secret Service’s protective mission is considered an exempted activity that is not directly changed by the shutdown.

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