State of the Union: President Trump extends ‘open hand’ to Democrats on immigration, touts tax cuts, warns North Korea
President Donald Trump extended an “open hand” to Democrats during his first State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night, boasting of political accomplishments in his first year as president as he declared “this is our new American moment.”
“Tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed,” he said.
The president used his more than an hour long speech to extend an olive branch to his critics and signal a willingness to make bipartisan deals on second-year-agenda priorities like immigration and infrastructure.
“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” the president said.
Watch below: Dickinson College Prof. David O’Connell reacts to President Trump’s State of the Union Address
The president described his recent offer for an immigration deal as a "fair compromise" for both sides. The White House is pushing a plan to broaden eligibility for the DACA program – which gives a reprieve to illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, and which Trump is planning to end absent a legislative solution – in exchange for border wall funding and other big changes.
“We presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise -- one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs and must have,” he said.
Even as he pushed for an immigration deal, the president didn’t stray from messaging aimed at his base. He emphasized that his “highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America's children, America's struggling workers, and America's forgotten communities.”
The president also warned that North Korea's “reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles” could “very soon” threaten the United States.
The White House has invited several guests to attend President Trump's first State of the Union address. Here's a look at some of the attendees.
“We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening,” he said. “Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”
During the speech, the president recognized the parents of Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who died over the summer after being injured while imprisoned in North Korea, who attended Tuesday’s address.
Vowing to fight terrorism, the president said he ordered Defense Secretary James Mattis to reexamine the military’s detention policy toward terrorists and keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay.
John Roberts previews the talking points from the White House.
The president called for bipartisan cooperation on infrastructure, saying "together, we can reclaim our great building heritage."
"We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways all across our land, and we will do it with American heart, and American hands, and American grit," Trump said.
Like other presidents before him, Trump used the address to tout first-year accomplishments like the GOP tax cut bill, regulation rollbacks, the elimination of ObamaCare’s individual mandate and gains made over the last year against the Islamic State.
“This is our new American moment,” Trump said. “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”
He began his speech by praising heroes during natural disasters and tragedies over the last year, including during the summer shooting of Republican lawmakers at a baseball practice.
“With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House -- a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three and a half months later: the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise,” Trump said.
Earlier Tuesday, during a pre-speech lunch with television anchors, Trump -- who does not shy away from conflict with his detractors -- said “unity is really what I'm striving for, to bring the country together."
"If I could unite this country, I would consider it a tremendous success,” Trump said. “I would love to be able to bring back our country in a great form of unity, without a major event - very tough to do. I would like to do it without a major event, because that major event is usually a bad thing.”
The address comes after a year of partisan clashes in Washington over health care, the 'travel ban,' regulations and more.
Ahead of the speech, leaders were bracing for potential conflicts.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered a stern warning to House Democrats attending the speech during a closed-door caucus meeting on Tuesday, imploring them to play nice.
Pelosi advised Democrats against a walk-out, with sources in the room saying Pelosi told members “if you want to walk out, don’t come” and to let Trump be “his slobbering self.”
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus wore traditional Kente cloth in protest of Trump's reported comments about immigration from “s---hole countries.”
During the speech, some caucus members declined to stand even to honor a 12-year-old guest of the first family who was recognized for gathering flags for veterans' graves.
Trump praised Preston Sharp, a boy from California, who started a movement to place flags at the graves of fallen service members.
Massachusetts senator Joseph Kennedy III will deliver the Democrats' response to President Trump's State of the Union address. Who is Sen. Kennedy?
“Preston's reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem,” he said.
Trump's comments were aimed at the NFL football players who have been kneeling during the national anthem as a protest against police shootings of African-Americans.
First lady Melania Trump and all of the president’s children – with the exception of 11-year-old Barron Trump – attended the primetime speech at the Capitol.
Source: Fox News