Trump delays State of the Union: Other times the address has been postponed or not given at all

Trump delays State of the Union: Other times the address has been postponed or not given at all

As the ongoing partial government shutdown continues, President Trump postponed his State of the Union address originally scheduled for Jan. 29.

The government has remained shuttered since before Christmas with Democrats and the president at loggerheads over funding for a border wall. Trump has demanded more than $5 billion for the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and Democrats have refused to capitulate.

After some back and forth between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the president agreed to postpone the State of the Union address less than a week before he was scheduled to deliver the speech before Congress.

While the practice of giving an annual State of the Union address in person – and in the form of a speech – is common in modern history, that wasn’t always the case.

Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution states, in part: 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.”

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When former President Bill Clinton delivered his State of the Union address in 1996 after what was then the longest government shutdown, he admonished, “I challenge all of you in this Chamber: Never, ever shut the federal government down again.”

Here’s a look at some other presidents who have delayed or skipped the State of the Union.

Presidents who didn’t give the address at all

Only two presidents did not give a State of the Union address whatsoever: William Henry Harrison and James Garfield. Garfield was only in the White House for little more than six months before he died in office; Harrison was only president for one month before he died.

Presidents who skipped a year

President Bill Clinton was notorious for giving lengthy State of the Union addresses.

President Bill Clinton was notorious for giving lengthy State of the Union addresses. (Getty Images)

In recent years, several modern presidents skipped giving a State of the Union address in the same year they were inaugurated. Many of them still gave a major speech soon after their inauguration, just not an official State of the Union.

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Those presidents include Ronald Reagan in 1981, George H.W. Bush in 1989, Clinton in 1993, George W. Bush in 2001, Barack Obama in 2009 and Trump in 2017.

The president who also delayed the address

President Ronald Reagan delayed his 1986 State of the Union address due to the Challenger disaster. 

President Ronald Reagan delayed his 1986 State of the Union address due to the Challenger disaster.  (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty)

The last time a State of the Union address was delayed was in 1986. Then, on Jan. 28, as Reagan was preparing to deliver the annual address, the Challenger space shuttle exploded, killing all those on board, including a teacher. Reagan still addressed the nation that night but didn’t deliver the State of the Union until February.

Initially, Reagan reportedly had to be convinced to postpone the address.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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