US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has informed the US President that he will not be allowed to deliver an annual State of the Union address in the House chamber until a partial government shutdown ends.

In a letter to Donald Trump, Ms Pelosi said: "I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing the president’s State of the Union address in the House chamber until government has opened."

Passage of such a resolution is required before the president can speak in the House.

The speech had been set for 29 January.

In response, Mr Trump has said he would do an alternative event to the State of the Union address before the US Congress.

"It's a disgrace," he said of Ms Pelosi's decision to block the address during a White House meeting on border security.

Earlier, he said he planned to deliver the State of the Union address in the House chamber, rejecting Ms Pelosi's request that he delay it.

In an escalation of rhetoric that essentially dared Ms Pelosi to disinvite him, Mr Trump told her in a letter, which the White House released earlier today, that he was "looking forward" to giving the speech, an annual event in American politics.

"It would be so very sad for our Country if the State of the Union were not delivered on time, on schedule, and very importantly, on location!" he wrote.

Mr Trump triggered a partial government shutdown on 22 December, refusing to sign off on funding everything from FBI salaries to the National Park Service, as a way of pressuring the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to back a border wall on the US-Mexico border.

But with Democrats refusing to give in and Mr Trump sticking to his hardball tactics, political paralysis in Washington has morphed into growing day-to-day pain across the country as some 800,000 federal employees adjust to life without salaries.


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The Senate is set to vote on two bills this week that would in theory break the deadlock, even if both have little chance of passing.

The first is on Mr Trump's compromise offer made Saturday, when he told Democrats he would extend temporary protection to about a million immigrants currently risking deportation if he gets his wall funding.

Ms Pelosi sent out a rejection before Mr Trump had even officially laid out his proposal.

The president also caught backlash from the right wing of his own party, which accused him of wanting to give amnesty to large numbers of people living in the country illegally.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that a vote on Mr Trump's plan would take place this week, saying the chance to end the shutdown is "staring us in the face."

However, the bill looks doomed, with the senior Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, describing the Trump offer as "going nowhere fast."

"President Trump and leader McConnell need to come to their senses".

The Senate was also expected to reject a second, Democrat-backed bill to restart funding for the government.

Even if it did get through Congress, "the president won't sign it," a senior Senate Republican aide said.

Both votes are expected tomorrow.

Extending the existing border fences has been at the top of Mr Trump's domestic agenda since his 2016 campaign.

But the disagreement over walls has expanded into a much broader test of political strength in divided Washington, with each side desperate to prevent the other from declaring victory.

Meanwhile, the hundreds of thousands of unpaid federal employees and many more contract workers are collateral victims, facing the start of a second month of going unpaid.

Furloughed federal workers visit a food bank in Washington DC

Full-time employees will get their back pay eventually, but in the meantime they still have to meet mortgage payments and other monthly costs. Contractors, however, will not receive the lost payments.

"If you're not going to pay our bills, then send us back to work. That's all we're asking," said Yvette Hicks, 40, a contractor at the Smithsonian museum complex.

"People are losing their houses, people are losing their cars and everything.

"Right now, this shutdown is really destroying me and my family," added the single mother of two.

"I'm the mother and the father in my household, and my children depend on me."

Pope says fear of migrants can make people crazy

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has suggested that hostility to immigrants is driven by irrational fear. He made the remark en route to Central America, a staging area from where migrants frequently try to enter the US.

One of the reporters flying with the Pope to Panama told him he had recently seen a barrier designed to deter migrants that juts out into the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, the western edge of the US border with Mexico, and described it as a "folly".

"Fear makes us crazy," Pope Francis replied.

Immigration is expected to be one of the main themes of the pope's six-day trip to Panama. Underscoring his firm focus on the issue, Pope Francis met eight refugees living in Rome before travelling to the airport for his flight.

The 23-28 January visit to Panama for the Church's World Youth Day is the pope's first foreign trip of 2019.

The 82-year-old pontiff is also scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania this year, and said a visit to Japan was on the cards.

"I am going to Japan in November. Get ready, "he told reporters on board his plane.

Francis said he also wanted to visit Iraq but had been advised it was still too dangerous.

A Vatican official said last year that Pope Francis would consider the possibility of an unprecedented visit to North Korea. He said such a trip would need "serious preparation" and there has been no sign that it might happen any time soon.