US President Donald Trump backed down late Wednesday in a spat with Democrats over his State of the Union address, agreeing to delay it until a government shutdown ends, although the more than month-long impasse dragged on.
The US Senate meanwhile prepared to hold two showdown votes yesterday on measures to reopen the shuttered federal agencies, but Trump's toxic sparring with House speaker Nancy Pelosi essentially assured no solution was at hand.
An intensifying war of words between the president and Pelosi came to a head Wednesday with the top Democrat effectively blocking Trump from delivering his annual address in Congress until the partial government shutdown, now in its 34th day, is brought to an end.
But in a tweet sent after 11:00 pm, Trump wrote, "As the Shutdown was going on, Nancy Pelosi asked me to give the State of the Union Address. I agreed."
"She then changed her mind because of the Shutdown, suggesting a later date. This is her prerogative - I will do the Address when the Shutdown is over."
As acrimony in Washington grew, lawmakers across the political spectrum were left searching in vain for an exit strategy for the longest-ever halt to federal operations, as furloughed government employees and contractors vented their fury on Capitol Hill.
The prospects for Trump getting to deliver his national address in Congress next Tuesday as planned were dim, with the Senate votes -- one on Trump's proposal that includes money for his border wall and changes to immigration policy, the other by Democrats seeking to reopen government before negotiating border security -- bound to fail.
Traditionally the president's annual speech is delivered before a joint session of Congress in the ornate chamber of the House of Representatives.