The state of the union scheduled at last

Nancy Pelosi is in her second stint as speaker.
Nancy Pelosi is in her second stint as speaker.
Art from an official portrait.
The state of our union is uh, off again, on again.

      Today, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, issued an invitation to President Donald Trump to give the State of the Union Feb. 5.
     The annual event was planned for Jan. 29. But it was postponed last week after Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote a letter informing Trump that Democrats would not allow the annual address in the House chamber until the end of a government shutdown. At the time, politicians had been sparring over Trump’s proposal to spend $5.7 billion on a wall separating the U.S. and Mexico. On Friday, a deal was reached reopening the government without funding for a wall.     
     The donnybrook illustrated the power of the U.S. House speaker. What is the job description and how did it become so important? Here is the rundown:

The history: The job of speaker is in the U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 2, clause 5: “The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.”

Who was the first speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives? Frederick Augustus Conrad Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania, elected April 1, 1789.

Winning the position: To get the job, a representative must win the votes of majority of House members present and voting, according to the U.S. House website. There are 435 voting representatives serving constituents in the 50 states. When the new U.S. Congress took office Jan. 3, Pelosi needed 218 votes to become speaker.She won with 220 votes.

The job description:  As leader of the House, the speaker is “presiding officer and administrative head of the House,” the government website explains. Of course, the speaker also leads the majority party and represents constituents in his or her congressional district.

First woman: This is Pelosi’s second stint in the job. She was first elected speaker in 2007 and served until 2011. She was the first woman to hold the post.

Two heartbeats from the presidency: As speaker, Pelosi is second in line to succeed the president, after the vice president.

State of the Union: Before the annual event, both the House and Senate pass a concurrent resolution inviting the president to speak. A concurrent resolution is a legislative measure “employed to address the sentiments of both chambers, to deal with issues or matters affecting both houses,” the government website explains. This year, as the shutdown lingered, leaving federal workers without paychecks, Pelosi wrote the president that representatives would “not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the President’s State of the Union address in the House Chamber until government has opened."


     State of the Union: An ever-changing message

     The State of the Union: An ender's game

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