Trump calls for unity, but pushes GOP agenda in State of the Union speechThe Washington Post Kate and Will’s Kensington Palace décor includes furniture from this budget store Video by Reuters President Trump used his first State of the Union Address to send two conflicting messages at once — to celebrate the results of his combative and deeply partisan first year, and to call upon Democrats to join him to work together in his second.“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,” Trump said at the start of the speech, made to a joint session of Congress.[Latest updates from the State of the Union coverage]But Trump’s nearly 90-minute long speech also lingered on a subject that is at the heart of Washington’s divisions: immigration. Trump cast the issue as one of safety, saying that “open borders” allowed by past administrations had allowed street gangs to thrive and cost Americans their lives. He offered a plan to let “Dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — stay and become citizens, but also rejected the idea that their needs should take priority. “Americans are dreamers, too,” he said.The speech did not mention the ongoing Special Counsel investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign, nor the effort by Republicans in Congress to attack Trump’s investigators with a secret memo alleging misdeeds at the Justice Department. Trump only mentioned Russia — whose interference in the 2016 campaign set off the probe — once.Subscribe to the Post Most newsletter: Today’s most popular stories on The Washington Post There were few disruptions in the chamber. Some Democrats hissed or groaned during Trump’s comments about immigration, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus — some of Trump’s most ardent critics on the Hill — sat stone-faced while Trump talked about historically low rates African American unemployment.Some of the most enthusiastic Democrats in the crowd were senators from states where Trump won in 2016, including Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Doug Jones (Ala.).Touting success Trump opened his speech by making the case that his first year in office has been an enormous success, noting continuing declines in the unemployment rate, a large tax cut, and cutbacks in federal regulations. He touted his nationalist agenda on trade — which has produced little tangible results so far — as setting a tone that the world had noticed.“Our nation has lost it’s wealth,” Trump said. “But we’re getting it back so fast.”[Latest updates from the State of the Union coverage]Trump touted the GOP’s huge new tax-cut bill, saying that many Americans would start seeing more tax-home pay soon.“Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses,” Trump said, speaking about a bill passed with only Republican votes. He celebrated the end of a provision from President Obama’s health-care law, which required many Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a tax. “The individual mandate is now gone. Thank heavens.”Trump pointed out small business owners from Ohio, who he said had just had the best year in the 20-year history of their business. Because of tax reform, he said, their business is expanding its space and hiring new workers.“This, in fact, is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream,” he said. Speaking to viewers at home: “This is your time …. Together, we can achieve absolutely anything.”Republicans in the House chambers cheered Trump’s remarks, while many Democrat sat silent and motionless.Trump’s celebration of the GOP’s tax bill came just after a section of his speech in which he implored Democrats to work together with him, saying that America’s needs required bipartisan cooperation.Trump began his speech with an appeal to unity, lauding heroes from the biggest calamities of 2017 — hurricanes, forest fires and mass shootings — as an example that a divided nation might come together.“It is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy,” said Trump. “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.”Immigration reform Trump also used his speech to lay out details of an immigration reform deal he had offered several days earlier, which offered citizenship for “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — in return for increased spending on border security and large cuts in legal immigration levels.But he sought to repurpose the term “dreamer,” saying that it shouldn’t be an excuse to shortchange Americans’ economic prospects or safety.Trump also used his speech to frame the fight over immigration as largely a fight over safety — saying that previous administrations’ policies have “caused the loss of many innocent lives.”“My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too,” Trump said.He pointed to guests in his box as examples of the threat posed by MS-13, a criminal gang active in both the United States and Central America. Trump’s guests will include a federal immigration agent who has investigated the gang, and two sets of parents whose children were killed by MS-13 members.More than 50 Democratic lawmakers have invited “dreamers” to attend as guests to dramatize their demand for legal status. In response, Republican Rep. Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.) tweeted that he had asked the Capitol Police to check all guests’ IDs, and arrest “any illegal aliens in attendance.”[How Democrats will use guests, boycott to make statement at Trump speech]The president continued to make the national security argument, touting the efforts to keep the nation safe from terrorism, while calling for more military spending.Trump announced he had formally canceled plans to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during his first State of the Union address Tuesday night.“We must be clear. Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants,” Trump said, in explaining the decision. The facility, first established in 2002, holds 41 remaining terrorism suspects. “And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are.”President Obama had signed an order to close the facility in 2009, but he had failed to do so because of political opposition to trying detainees in the United States. Trump had long promised to keep the facility open.He also called on Congress to remove the limit on military spending enacted under the budget sequestration of 2013.The president also addressed the threat posed by North Korea, saying his administration was waging a “campaign of maximum pressure” to prevent North from arming itself with nuclear missiles that could threaten the United States. But he said little about what options he was considering, in his first State of the Union address Tuesday.“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland,” Trump 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 very dangerous position.”Earlier in the day, The Washington Post reported that Trump’s choice for ambassador to South Korea — Georgetown University Professor Victor Cha — was no longer under consideration, in part because Cha opposed a plan for military strikes under consideration by Trump’s advisers. That plan, known as a “bloody nose” strike, envisions a limited U.S. attack on North Korean sites, which in theory would deter North Korea from future provocations but not trigger an all-out war.In an op-ed written in The Washington Post on Tuesday, Cha himself wrotethat the risks of escalation from such a strike were too high — either for South Korea or for the U.S., which has more than 200,000 citizens in South Korea.“The president would be putting at risk an American population the size of a medium-size U.S. city — Pittsburgh, say, or Cincinnati — on the assumption that a crazy and undeterrable dictator will be rationally cowed by a demonstration of U.S. kinetic power,” Cha wrote.The issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 election — and a special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible contacts with Russian — have dominated Washington’s discourse in the last few days. The only mention of Russia in Trump’s address so far was in a line that called the country a “rival,” along with China.“Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values,” Trump said. “In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defense.”Democratic response There will be two official Democratic responses , one in English and one in Spanish. The English response, given by Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), will say that Trump is “targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection,” and call attention to growing income inequality, according to excerpts released Tuesday evening. A Democratic America, Kennedy will say, would be “brave enough to admit that top CEOs making 300 times the average worker is not right.”The Spanish response, given by Virginia state Del. Elizabeth Guzman, will attack Trump for ending the deferred-action program and putting hundreds of thousands in danger of deportation. “These people have acted in accordance with the law, they have paid taxes,” Guzman will say, according to excerpts. “The President has also failed in his duty to protect our families in Puerto Rico who were affected by hurricane Maria. This is unjust. This is unacceptable.”Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), an independent who ran as a Democrat in 2016, will also give his own rebuttal.Sean Sullivan contributed to this report. Slide 1 of 31: President Donald Trump steps to the podium to begin his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Behind President Trump are Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)1/31 SLIDES © Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP President Donald Trump steps to the podium to begin his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 30, 2018. Behind President Trump are Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Slideshow by photo services
Donald Trump booed in his first State of the Union after hitting out at ‘chain migration’
Emily Shugerman • President Donald Trump faced boos from Democrats during his first State of the Union address, after criticising „chain migration” – a practice in which family members come to join immigrants who have settled in America.Mr Trump has long bemoaned the practice as a means for terrorists and „truly evil people” to enter the country. He used his address to lay out his own immigration plan, which he claimed would „protect the nuclear family by ending chain migration”.”Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives,” Mr Trump claimed. „Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.”The comments earned grumbles and boos from Democrats in the audience, many of whom had brought immigrants with them as their guests to the event.House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even tweeted abut the comment, writing: „Reminder: when @realDonaldTrump says we need to end ‘chain migration,’ he means we need to stop making it a priority to keep families together.”Chain migration is the most common form of immigration to the US, making up 60 to 70 per cent of all legal immigration in the last decade. Democrats and advocates argue that the more accurate term is „family reunification,” as the purpose of the policy is to bring families separated by immigration back together. More than 50,000 children of immigrants, and 85,000 parents, entered the US this way last year.Mr Trump has attempted to tie chain migration to increased crime and terrorism in the US. In his speech on Tuesday, he pointed to the suspect in an attempted Times Square bombing, who entered the country on a visa for family members in 2011.”In the age of terrorism, these programmes present risks we can no longer afford,” Mr Trump said. „It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.”Multiple studies have shown that immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States.Mr Trump rolled out his proposed immigration policy last week. The plan would make a massive cut to the number of family members allowed to immigrate to the US each year. It would also require $25b for a border wall with Mexico and other border security measures.In exchange, it would create a path to citizenship for some 1.8m residents who arrived in the US illegally as children.
Kennedy SOTU response: ‘Bullies may land a punch,’ don’t win MATTHEW DALY •WASHINGTON (AP) — Soaring stock prices under President Donald Trump have boosted investor portfolios and corporate profits but have not eased the economic anxieties of middle-class families, Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III said Tuesday night in the Democratic response to Trump’s first State of the Union address.In calling on Americans to reject the „chaos” of the Trump era, Kennedy also outlined a Democratic vision that promises a „better deal for all who call this country home.”Democrats support a higher minimum wage, paid leave for employees and affordable child care, among other priorities, Kennedy said.”We choose pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that won’t rust away, and good education you can afford,” he said in a speech from a vocational high school in Fall River, Massachusetts, a onetime manufacturing hub now struggling with high unemployment and other problems.Kennedy, 37, a three-term congressman and grandson of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, has argued that Democrats should focus on the economic concerns of working-class voters who bolted the party in the 2016 elections.Fall River, home to many blue-collar workers, „has faced its share of storms,” Kennedy said. „But people here are tough. They fight for each other. They pull for their city.”In an apparent reference to Trump, Kennedy said that „bullies may land a punch” and leave a mark but that they have „never managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.”In a hard-hitting speech for a political newcomer, Kennedy decried a rollback of civil rights protections, noting proposals that target Muslims, transgender people and others.The Trump administration „isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us — they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection,” Kennedy said.Trump’s record is „a rebuke of our highest American ideal: the belief that we are all worthy, we are all equal and we all count — in the eyes of our law and our leaders, our God and our government,” Kennedy said.The red-haired Kennedy was elected to the House in 2012, returning the family to Congress two years after the retirement of Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the son of Joe Kennedy III’s great-uncle Ted.Known mostly for his famous last name, Kennedy’s selection has been criticized by some as tone-deaf at a time when sexual harassment of women and the Black Lives Matter movement are at the forefront of American politics. Speaking without a suit coat in front of a rebuilt car and an enthusiastic audience, Kennedy tried to defuse that Tuesday by citing the #MeToo movement and declaring, „Black lives matter.”In a nod to „Dreamers,” the 700,000 young immigrants brought here as children and now here illegally, Kennedy spoke in Spanish as he said Dreamers are a part of America’s story and promised that Democrats will not walk away from them.Kennedy said Trump and his administration were breaking a core promise of America — that everyone will be treated equally under the law. He accused the administration of „callously” appraising Americans’ worth and deciding „who makes the cut and who can be bargained away.”Under the leadership of Trump and congressional Republicans, Americans are „bombarded with one false choice after another,” Kennedy said. „Coal miners or single moms. Rural communities or inner cities. The coast or the heartland.”Democrats „choose both,” Kennedy said.A former Peace Corps volunteer, Kennedy was an assistant district attorney in two Massachusetts districts before being elected to Congress. He has focused on economic and social justice in Congress and has advocated on behalf of vocational schools and community colleges and championed issues such as transgender rights and marriage equality.To illustrate that message, Kennedy invited U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Patricia King, a transgender woman, as his guest to the State of the Union. King, an infantry squad leader at Fort Lewis, Washington, was the first person to have gender reassignment surgery paid for by the military.Kennedy’s speech was one of several Democratic responses. Elizabeth Guzman, one of the first Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, delivered a Spanish-language response, while former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke on Facebook Live and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., spoke on BET.
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