‘Tonight, I Ask You To Choose Greatness’ : NPR

'Tonight, I Ask You To Choose Greatness' : NPR

President Trump, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Pence wanting on, delivers the State of the Union tackle in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday night time.

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President Trump, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Vice President Pence wanting on, delivers the State of the Union handle within the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday night time.

Pool/Getty Photographs

Updated Wednesday at 1:05 a.m. ET

President Trump used his second State of the Union tackle to name for bipartisanship and unity, whilst he stays at an deadlock with Congress over immigration in the shadow of the longest authorities shutdown in U.S. history.

It was the primary time Trump addressed Congress with Democrats controlling the Home, although he didn’t make an outright nod to the new power stability. The president also didn’t point out the 35-day partial authorities shutdown that preceded — and had initially delayed — his annual tackle and made only a passing reference to a different one that would happen in lower than two weeks.

As an alternative, Trump opened by telling lawmakers he was “ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans” and by aiming to “govern not as two parties but as one nation.”

“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,” the president stated to a standing ovation from each events.

Trump referred to as on Congress to “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. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future,” he continued. “The decision is ours to make. We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction. Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness.”

Nevertheless, Trump’s rhetoric throughout his presidency — and within the hours forward of his speech — undercuts that message and could make it onerous for his remarks to interrupt via. For example, Tuesday morning the president tweeted that his administration has “sent additional military” to the Southern border. “We will build a Human Wall if necessary,” Trump also stated. “If we had a real Wall, this would be a non-event!” That tweet was soon followed by another that focused the Senate’s prime Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York.

And not lengthy into his remarks, that tone of comity did fade. Trump condemned Justice Division special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into his 2016 presidential campaign and whether there was any collusion with Russia — which has led to the arrests and convictions of a number of former aides. Trump, who has regularly referred to as Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt,” blamed it for curtailing economic progress.

“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 stated, as Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visibly reacted behind him. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way! We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, responded after Trump’s speech that the president “seems to believe that because Congress must legislate, we should not investigate. Of course, the Constitution requires us to do both. That is exactly how it works.”

Trump’s tackle comes less than two weeks earlier than one other funding deadline that would end in another partial government shutdown. The president has been pessimistic concerning the possibilities that a bipartisan group of lawmakers engaged in negotiations will find a palatable answer on border safety he would signal. As expected, he made immigration — and his continued argument that a Southern border wall of some sort is important — a central a part of his speech, asking Congress “to defend our very dangerous Southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.”

“We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways,” Trump stated. “I want people to come into our country, but they have to come in legally.”

Trump stated his push for a wall can be a “smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall” that might “be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down.”

Trump has floated declaring a nationwide emergency as a method to construct the wall, which was a key marketing campaign promise — albeit with the caveat that Mexico would pay for it — that drew wild reward from his supporters. However even some Republicans, including Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have cautioned that such a declaration can be a dangerous strategy, drawing probably authorized challenges and setting a probably harmful precedent for future presidents.

The president did not reference such a declaration in his speech, however he did insist he would “get it built.”

In the Democratic Spanish-language response, California Lawyer Common Xavier Becerra pushed again forcefully towards the potential of an emergency declaration.

“And the idea of declaring a nonexistent state of emergency on the border, in order to justify robbing funds that belong to the victims of fires, floods, hurricanes, and droughts, to pay for the wall is not only immoral, it is illegal,” Becerra stated. “We are ready to reject this foolish proposal in court the moment it touches the ground.”

The House chamber seemed quite totally different than in previous years. Democrats have control of the House for the first time in eight years, with that success coming owing to the document variety of ladies — most of whom wore white Tuesday night time in honor of early 20th century suffragists — elected in final yr’s midterms.

As Trump started to tout his economic success, he noted that “no one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the new jobs created in the last year.” The Democratic ladies started to face and cheer, egged on by their male colleagues.

“You weren’t supposed to do that,” Trump quipped with a smile, though he urged them to maintain standing for his subsequent remarks: “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before — and exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than ever before.” That prompted even more cheering and chants of “USA!” from the female lawmakers. Mockingly, it was, in large part, because of Trump and his insurance policies that lots of those Democratic ladies decided to run for workplace.

Ladies of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (middle), cheer after President Trump acknowledges their elevated numbers in Congress, throughout his State of the Union speech.

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Ladies of Congress, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. (middle), cheer after President Trump acknowledges their elevated numbers in Congress, during his State of the Union speech.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Democrats selected former Georgia Home Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who fell brief in her bid final yr to develop into the nation’s first black feminine governor, to offer their response to the president’s handle. She hit Trump particularly onerous over the prolonged partial shutdown and its effect on staff.

“Making their livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace,” Abrams stated about affected federal staff. “The shutdown was a stunt engineered by the president of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people — but our values.”

On immigration, she acknowledged that there might be a bipartisan path forward, “but this administration chooses to cage children and tear families apart.”

“Compassionate treatment at the border is not the same as open borders. President Reagan understood this. President Obama understood this. Americans understand this. And Democrats stand ready to effectively secure our ports and borders,” Abrams continued. “But we must all embrace that from agriculture to health care to entrepreneurship, America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants — not walls.”

After dropping her race — which was marred by allegations of voter suppression — Abrams launched a voting rights group. She talked about that struggle and growing incidents of racism and white supremacy across the nation.

“We fought Jim Crow with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, yet we continue to confront racism from our past and in our present — which is why we must hold everyone from the very highest offices to our own families accountable for racist words and deeds — and call racism what it is. Wrong.”

On this pool picture from video, Stacey Abrams delivers the Democratic Celebration’s response to President Trump’s State of the Union handle Tuesday from Atlanta.


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In this pool image from video, Stacey Abrams delivers the Democratic Social gathering’s response to President Trump’s State of the Union tackle Tuesday from Atlanta.


Trump did spotlight his outreach to African-People at numerous factors in his speech, together with the bipartisan legal justice invoice that handed last yr.

“This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African-American community,” Trump stated. “The First Step Act gives nonviolent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens.”

Two of the president’s friends he recognized in his speech have been helped by his administration’s efforts around rethinking legal justice points, including the First Step Act: Alice Johnson, whose sentence Trump commuted last yr after she had been given life in prison for being a first-time nonviolent drug offender, and Matthew Charles, who in his 20 years earlier than he was launched because of the First Step Act mentored inmates and taught Bible research.

Different elements of Trump’s remarks touched on the financial system, overseas policy and enhancing America’s infrastructure.

“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,” Trump argued.

Trump delivering his State of the Union handle to a joint session of Congress.

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Jim Younger/Reuters

Trump delivering his State of the Union tackle to a joint session of Congress.

Jim Younger/Reuters

Trump has also pushed for withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and drawing down the American army presence in Afghanistan — an concept even Republicans in the Senate have rebuffed. But on Tuesday night he asserted that “as a candidate for president, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars.”

Trump additionally boasted of his denuclearization efforts with North Korea, claiming that “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.”

“Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one. Chairman Kim and I will meet again on Feb. 27 and 28 in Vietnam,” he revealed, giving dates for the summit that had been introduced final month.

Trump also talked about simmering tensions with Venezuela, after the U.S. lately acknowledged Juan Guaidó because the country’s reliable president over authoritarian chief Nicolás Maduro.

“We stand with the Venezuelan people in their noble quest for freedom — and we condemn the brutality of the Maduro regime, whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair,” Trump stated.

He additionally used that second in the speech as a segue to a veiled attack on progressives, including self-described Democratic Socialists who have been elected to Congress last yr.

“Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Trump said. “America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

Infrastructure, especially, is an issue the place there might be some bipartisan settlement, and Trump advised Congress that “both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.” Nevertheless, previous efforts by the administration to spotlight such efforts have typically been overshadowed by controversy or other news.

Trump ended his almost 90-minute handle on an optimistic notice that somewhat belied the difficulties in the coming days, particularly as another partial authorities shutdown probably looms — and with a message that would shortly be undercut by regardless of the president decides to tweet:

“We must choose whether we are defined by our differences — or whether we dare to transcend them. We must choose whether we squander our inheritance — or whether we proudly declare that we are Americans: We do the incredible. We defy the impossible. We conquer the unknown . … I am asking you to choose greatness. No matter the trials we face, no matter the challenges to come, we must go forward together.”