President Trump delivered his second State of the Union address to a divided Congress on Tuesday, calling for bipartisanship amongst a Democratic House majority that vehemently oppose much of his laid out agenda.
“The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people,” Trump said, kicking off his address on the theme of ‘choosing greatness.’ “It is the agenda of the American people. There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage to seize it. Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country.”
Trump added, “We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good. Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. The decision is ours to make. Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.”
Trump touted his administration accomplishment of his first two years in office as Republicans applauded and gave standing ovations while Democrats sat stone-faced with frowns. But, Democrats, especially the female lawmakers donned in all-white surprised Trump with a loud standing ovation when he mentioned more women in the workforce and in Congress than ever before.
“Over the last 2 years, my Administration has moved with urgency and historic speed to confront problems neglected by leaders of both parties over many decades,” Trump said, citing economic successes such as U.S. economy boom, low unemployment rate in half a century and passing the tax cut during his first year. “After 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world, our military is the most powerful on earth, and America is winning each and every day.”
Calling it an “economic miracle,” Trump pointed out the “ridiculous partisan investigations” that Democrats have pledged to launch into his personal finances and his administration since taking over the House last month could harm the thriving economy.
“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,” Trump said. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way! Now is the time for bipartisan action.”
Devoting most of his 82-minute address on the need for a border wall, Trump called it an “urgent national crisis” and called on Congress to “join forces again” to secure the southern border.
“Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis. The Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our Government, protect our homeland, and secure our southern border,” Trump said. “Now is the time for the Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business.
The president’s remarks come after a 35-day partial government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, that saw an intense stalemate between Trump and congressional Democrats over funding for border security. Trump requested $5.7 billion in funding for border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Last month, the president signed a stop-gap spending package that reopened the government through February 15, but it didn’t include any funding for the wall. With the funding deadline looming days away, if Congress cannot reach a deal, a second government shutdown possibly could occur. Trump stopped short of declaring a border emergency during his address that would allow him to bypass Congress for wall funding and urged Congress to “work together, compromise, and reach a deal” that will make America safe.
“My Administration has sent to the Congress a common sense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border,” Trump said. “It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enables child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry. In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built.”
He pointed out how illegal immigration is the divide between “America’s working class and America’s political class.”
“Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate — it is cruel,” Trump said. “No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards. Meanwhile, working class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools and hospitals, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.”
Touching on other issues, Trump weighed in on the late-term abortion law that was recently passed in New York and Virginia. He slammed Democrats for supporting such proposals and called for a federal legislation crack down on such procedures. As Democrats stood in silence, Trump cited embattled Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam recent comment by basically stating “he would execute a baby after birth.”
“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth,” Trump said. “And then, we had the case of the Governor of Virginia, where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth. To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”
The president also announced plans for a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which he said will take place Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam. The president has made a denuclearization deal with Pyongyang one of his top foreign policy priorities and he has long teased the possibility of another meeting with the North Korean leader.
“If I had not been elected President of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea with potentially millions of people killed,” Trump said. “Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. And Chairman Kim and I will meet again on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who sat quietly behind the president during his address released a statement condemning Trump’s speech and for threatening Congress over its oversight responsibilities.
“Tonight, the President spoke about the honor of being in the House Chamber, and all the progress that has been achieved here,” the statement reads. “But at the same time, he threatened the United States Congress not to exercise its constitutional responsibility of oversight. It will take days to fact-check all the misrepresentations that the President made tonight. Instead of fear-mongering and manufacturing a crisis at the border, President Trump should commit to signing the bipartisan conference committee’s bill to keep government open and provide strong, smart border security solutions.”
Democrat Stacey Abrams, who lost Georgia gubnetoral election in November delivered the Democratic rebuttal to President Trump’s address. Abrams, a rising star in the Democratic Party is the first African-American woman to give the party’s rebuttal. She blamed Trump for the government shutdown, calling it a “stunt engineered by the president.”
“Making livelihoods of our federal workers a pawn for political games is a disgrace,” Abrams said in 15 minute speech. “The shutdown was a stunt, engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenant of fairness and abandoned not just our people, but our values. So even as I am very disappointed by the President’s approach to our problems – I still don’t want him to fail. But we need him to tell the truth, and to respect his duties and the extraordinary diversity that defines America.”
Shortly after the largely televised address, CBS News released an instant poll that showed 76 percent of those who watched approved Trump’s speech he gave. Forty-three percent of the 1,472 surveyed identified themselves as Republicans with 97 percent of them approving the speech. Only 30 percent of Democrats approved of Trump’s address.
On specific issues Trump touched on during the speech, 72 percent of viewers approved of what the president said on immigration and 71 percent do think there is a crisis at the southern border.