Sunday 21/07/2019 - 09:21 am

Trump State of the Union address to make bipartisan call on immigration, infrastructure

2018.01.30 04:10

President Trump says hell use his State of the Union address Tuesday to make a bipartisan appeal to Congress on immigration and infrastructure in the coming year.

But first, Trump isnt quite done talking about the year thats passed.

Trump said Monday he will use his annual address to Congress to tout "our great success with the markets and with the tax cut"before tackling some of the things hed like to achieve in 2018 — a list that includes infrastructure spending, an immigration bill and renegotiated trade agreements.

Those two objectives — look both backwards and forwards, claiming credit for past accomplishments but also proposing new initiatives — have come to define the highly formulaic, ritualized speech to Congress.

They present a unique challenge for Trump, a president more accustomed to speaking in 280-character tweets, brief exchanges with reporters than an hour-long formal address. But he prime-time televised address also gives Trump an unfiltered opportunity to talk about his presidency without the distraction of daily headlines about the Russia investigation and White House intrigue.

"The president is going to talk about how America is back," White House legislative director Marc Short told Fox News Sunday.

Key talking points used by presidential aides over the past few days: A growing economy. Declining unemployment — particularly among African-Americans, A booming stock market. Victories against he Islamic State. And the appointment of conservative federal judges.

 US President Donald Trump says his State of the Union speech is "a big speech, an important speech." The remarks came after Alex Azar (AY-zahr) was sworn in at the White House to head the Department of Health and Human Services. (Jan. 29) AP

"There are some great things happening in this country, and I think you can expect to hear the president talk about a lot of those," press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday. "Not only what weve been able to do in the first year, but all of the great things that were going to do in the next seven years after this."

Thats the part of the speech envisioned by the Constitution, which requires the president to give an annual report to Congress and "recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."

Trump also has a weighty legislative agenda hed like to get through a Republican-dominated Congress before Novembers elections change the legislative math.

► Immigration: The White House released the outlines of a proposal Friday that would give immigrants who arrived in the United States as children legal status — with the possibility of citizenship in 10 to 12 years.

But that concession would come with strings attached: Trump wants $25 billion for border security and an end to two immigration programs Trump opposes: family-based "chain" migration, and the diversity visa lottery program, which admits immigrants from countries usually under-represented in other visa categories.

"For many, many years theyve been talking immigration and never got anything done. Were going to get something done, we hope. Its got to be bipartisan, because the Republicans really dont have the votes to get it done in any other way," Trump told reporters Monday.

 President Trump gives his first State of the Union speech Tuesday. We break it down with diagrams and graphics that give you some context. Ramon Padilla, Jim Sergent, George Petras, Janet Loehrke and Walbert Castillo, USA TODAY

► Spending: The speech comes amid a showdown with Senate Democrats over government spending. The two sides are currently in a cease-fire negotiated through Feb. 8, when the governments funding authority runs out for the fifth time since last October.

The spending and immigration debates have become intertwined, but Trump will likely use the urgency to fund the military to push Congress to resolve the standoff.

► National security: "One of our concerns is that we have these dramatic threats on the global scene, yet where we are in Congress is we still cant even pass the spending bill that funds our military because Democrats are continuing to hold the military hostage to pursue another agenda," Short said.

► Trade: Trump is expected to echo his remarks in Davos, Switzerland last week that the United States will insist on "fair and reciprocal trade" with other nations.

"Its going to be, I think, a very important speech on trade. The world has taken advantage of us on trade for many years. And as you probably noticed, were stopping that. Were stopping it cold. And we have to have reciprocal trade. Its not a one-way deal anymore," Trump said Monday.

► Infrastructure: The White House has been putting the finishing touches on a $200 billion infrastructure that, Trump has claimed, could leverage another $800 billion to $1.6 billion in state, local and private funds.

"Hes going to talk about the fact that America is open for business," Short said. "And the president is also going to make an appeal to Democrats, to make an appeal to say, we need to rebuild our country and to make an appeal that to do infrastructure, we need to do it in a bipartisan way."

Trumps tone will be perhaps as carefully measured as the substance of his speech. While Trump is often combative in his relations with Congress — even members of his own party — State of the Union addresses often extol the virtues of bipartisanship.

"Im curious to see how much of this speech is to the base, and how much of it is to the country," said Alison Howard of Dominican University of California, who has studied State of the Union addresses. "Its not a rally. Its not a campaign speech. Its a constitutional duty."

Beyond the substance of the speech, the State of the Union Address has also become a forum for high political theater, marked by boycotts, protests, and opposition responses.

In one tradition instituted by President Ronald Reagan, presidents invite everyday American heroes to sit in the gallery with the first lady.

Sanders said Trumps guests will include a welder who just bought his first home and is using tax cut savings to help finance his childrens education; parents who lost their children to the MS-13 gang; a blind, double amputee who re-joined the Marines after being injured in battle; and volunteers who did rescue work after floods, hurricanes, and wildfires.

One subject not likely to be mentioned: The ongoing investigation into the Trump campaigns links to Russian agents attempting to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

"We spend more time on that than we do any other topic, despite the fact that, time and time again, poll after poll says that, frankly, no one cares about this issue, and its certainly not the thing that keeps people up at night," Sanders said Monday.

"Wed love to talk about all of the things that do.  And my guess is, that will be the focus of the presidents State of the Union."

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