When any American President formally speaks before a joint session of the two houses of the U.S. Congress, it is considered a matter of great importance to our nation — and certainly ought to be viewed as quite significant by members of Congress. The State-of-the-Union (SOTU) address — regardless of which President is delivering it, and irrespective of his or her party affiliation — is never trivial. When a President gives his or her remarks, both houses of Congress are officially in session at that point and — just as at any other such time — the words spoken to those persons present within the House chamber are to be reduced to writing and spread upon the Congressional Record. This, of course, is to preserve for posterity such historic comments and to make them more widely available to anyone desiring to reflect back upon them.
Hence, it is with some surprise that the full and complete verbatim text of President Donald Trump’s February 5, 2019 speech — and, as it turns out, likewise his February 28, 2017 as well as his January 30, 2018 SOTU addresses – are all completely missing from the Congressional Record. So, I did some investigating.
This week’s address was, of course, the third such occasion of Donald Trump’s presidency. In the U.S. Senate’s portion of the Congressional Record of February 5, 2019, at Page S874, the reader is assured “(The address delivered by the President of the United States to the joint session of the two Houses of Congress is printed in the proceedings of the House of Representatives in today’s RECORD.)” This would definitely seem proper given that the speech is delivered in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives, rather than in the chamber of the Senate. That exact same assurance is likewise found in the Senate’s section of the Congressional Record of January 30, 2018 (at Page S591) as well as in the Senate’s part of the Congressional Record of February 28, 2017 (at Page S1507).
In the U.S. House of Representatives’ portion of the Congressional Record of February 5, 2019, however, the words of President Trump are nowhere to be found despite the following procedural entry on Page H1361: “Mr. HOYER. Madam Speaker, I move that the message of the President be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union and ordered printed. The motion was agreed to.” Trump’s words do not even appear in that portion of the Congressional Record designated as “Extensions of Remarks” let alone within the proceedings of the House of Representatives.
What about President Trump’s February 28, 2017 and January 30, 2018 SOTU addresses during the Speakership of Paul Ryan and a Republican majority in the House? Were Trump’s remarks snubbed then, too? In checking the House’s section of the Record of February 28, 2017, one finds on Page H1390: “Mr. McCARTHY. Mr. Speaker, I move that the message of the President be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union and ordered printed. The motion was agreed to.” Yet, the words of President Trump’s first SOTU address do not appear anywhere in the Record of February 28, 2017 — nor, for that matter, may they be found in the Record of any subsequent day.
In the House’s part of the Record of January 30, 2018, at Page H731, once again the reader is greeted with: “Mr. McCARTHY. Mr. Speaker, I move that the message of the President be referred to the Whole House of the state of the Union and ordered printed. The motion was agreed to.” Yet, the address of the nation’s 45th Chief Executive appears nowhere in the Record of January 30, 2018, nor — for that matter — in the Record of any subsequent day.
What about former President Barrack Obama? Were the words of Obama’s SOTU addresses preserved in the Congressional Record for the benefit of posterity?
Obama’s final SOTU remarks were delivered before a joint session of both houses of Congress which took place on January 12, 2016. And Obama’s every word was published verbatim in the U.S. House of Representatives’ portion of the Congressional Record of that date, starting on Page H325 and ending on Page H329.
Of course, any member of the U.S. House of Representatives (or even of the U.S. Senate) could remedy these discriminatory omissions — albeit belatedly — by simply inserting into the Congressional Record the 2019, 2018 or 2017 SOTU addresses of President Donald Trump. Insertions of this type into the Record occur on a near-daily basis in our nation’s Capital.
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With his decade of work (1982-1992) to gain the 27th Amendment’s incorporation into the U.S. Constitution, Gregory Watson of Texas is an internationally-recognized authority on the process by which the federal Constitution is amended.
Photos “Nancy Pelosi” and “Donald Trump” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.