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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump used his State of the Union address Tuesday to push for a border wall and other priorities in a new era of divided government in Washington.
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10:29 p.m. Trump finished off the roughly 80-minute address by returning to lofty themes of American greatness and bipartisanship.
“What will we do with this moment?” Trump asked. “How will we be remembered?”
Trump said “this is the time to reignite the American imagination.”
10:20 p.m. The chamber broke out into an impromptu rendition of “Happy Birthday” when Trump introduced Holocaust survivor Judah Samet, who is celebrating his 81st birthday and was seated in the first lady’s box. “They wouldn’t do that for me!” Trump joked, going off script. Samet also survived a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue last October.
10:15 p.m. Trump repeated his claim of success in fighting ISIS.
“Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty monsters,” the president said.
Trump drew considerable backlash from members of his own party in December for announcing he intended to withdraw some 2,000 troops from Syria, saying that they were “coming back now” and that ISIS was defeated. But the White House has since signaled the withdrawal process could take months, or longer. Many Republicans have noted that ISIS is not defeated and have questioned Trump’s move toward pulling troops out.
Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton said last month that the White House had placed conditions on the withdrawal.
Trump also noted during the speech that he is considering withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
10:09 p.m. Trump announced that he will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam on Feb. 27 and 28, the latest sign of thawing tensions between two leaders who had once publicly traded insults and threats of military confrontation.
The summit comes less than a year after the two held a historic meeting in Singapore closely watched for signals North Korea was open to diplomacy. Since then, Trump has claimed the country is no longer a nuclear threat, but independent analysts have sharply questioned that assessment.
“Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one,” Trump said.
10:05 p.m. Addressing the issue of abortion, Trump slammed New York’s new abortion law, which expands the type of health-care practitioners who can perform abortions and allows for late-term abortions if the health of the mother is at risk or the fetus is not viable.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
10:03 p.m. Trump has called for a national commitment to end the transmission of H.I.V., the virus that causes aids.
“No force in history has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom. In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach. My budget will ask Democrats and Republicans to make the needed commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years.
“Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond,” Trump said.
The idea, which could meet with bipartisan support, harkens to a program launched in 2003 by then President George W. Bush that focused on the AIDS epidemic in Africa. The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has supported more than 14 million people with AIDS-fighting medicine.
9:59 p.m. Trump has talked for some time about the need for infrastructure reform. In his speech, he said he’s eager to work with Congress to pass a bill to invest in infrastructure, including “investments in the cutting-edge industries of the future.”
“This is not an option,” he said. “This is a necessity.”
Early in his presidency there was hope Democrats and Republicans could work together on an infrastructure spending package. But those chances dimmed when the White House offered mixed signals about how to pay for rebuilding roads, bridges and airports.
Trump made the same plea in his 2018 State of the Union, asking Congress to “produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.” That never happened.
9:54 p.m. Trump said a border wall “immediately” changed El Paso, Texas, from one of the most dangerous in the country to one of the safest. The city’s crime rate actually plummeted before the wall was built there, with violent crime dropping 62 percent from 1993 to 2007 – a year before construction of the fence began.
Trump also said that Congress approved a border wall, but claimed it “never got built.”
The Secure Fence Act of 2006 called for 700 miles of fencing and more than 650 miles of that was erected, according to the Government Accountability Office.
More: Follow live fact checks of the State of the Union
9:45 p.m. One of the more dramatic moments in the speech came when Trump mentioned women getting the right to vote a century ago and the fact that currently the United States has “more women serving in the Congress than ever before.”
Democratic women lawmakers stood up and gave high fives to one another. Both sides chanted: “USA, USA!” while one Democrat yelled, “Thank you, Nancy!”
9:43 p.m. “It will get built,” Trump said as he turned for the first time to the issue at the heart of the biggest battle in Washington: His proposed border wall. Trump described the wall as “a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier – not just a simple concrete wall.”
Trump repeated his claims that a wall would sharply reduce the flow of migrants and drugs over the border. But outside experts have questioned many of Trump’s assertions about the effectiveness of a wall.
Follow live fact checks of the State of the Union.
9:34 p.m. Trump is describing the situation on the border as a “crisis” but stopped short of declaring a national emergency as a way of freeing up funds to pay for a border wall.
“Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis,” Trump said.
No Democrats stood when the president began to talk about immigration but there was some scattered applause from a few seated Democrats. When the president brought up what he described as a threat from caravans arriving from Central America, Democrats sighed.
When Trump said there would be a “tremendous onslaught” from the caravan, there was laughter from someone on the Democratic side of the chamber.
The Pentagon announced over the weekend it would deploy approximately 3,750 additional U.S. forces to the southwest border. The deployment raised the total active duty forces supporting U.S. Customs and Border Protection to about 4,350.
The additional units are being deployed for 90 days.
9:30 p.m. Trump’s reference to the investigations was intended to suggest that the Mueller probe and other investigations could stymie the health of the economy.
9:25 p.m.: Trump made a veiled reference to Russia special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian collusion the presidential election, suggesting that they as well as probes by congressional committees. Trump frequently discusses the investigations, which he describes as a “witch hunt,” but the State of the Union was an unexpected venue for that issue to come up.
“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,” he said.
9:23 p.m. “Members of Congress, the state of our union is strong,” Trump said to chants of “USA USA.”
“That sounds good,” Trump said in response.
9:20 p.m. Trump touts the economy in every speech, and the State of the Union was no exception. Trump said the country had seen “unprecedented economic boom” since his election. “But the fact is, we are just getting started.”
Despite swings in the stock market, driven at least in part by Trump’s confrontational trade policies, unemployment has remained low. The U.S. unemployment rate edged up slightly to 4 percent in January, matching several months last year. Before that, the unemployment rate last hovered around 4 percent in July 2000.
Much of that economic progress began before Trump became president, but it has continued under his tenure.
9:18 p.m. In a reference to the partisan rancor that dominated Washington during the recent government shutdown and debate over border security, Trump said that lawmakers could embrace “vision or vengeance” and “greatness or gridlock” in their politics.
9:15 p.m. Citing the moon landing, World War II, and other American achievements, Trump said that, “Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure, and we must create a new standard of living for the 21st century. An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens is within our reach.”
9:09 p.m. Trump has begun his speech. His early remarks offered a nod toward bipartisanship at a time of deep division. “The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democratic agenda, it’s the agenda of the American people,” he said.
9:06 p.m.: Energy secretary and former Texas governor Rick Perry the designated survivor for Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to a White House official. Presidents have long selected a Cabinet member to skip the State of the Union in case disaster strikes and wipes out the government during the speech.
9:03 p.m. President Trump has entered the the House chamber. Per tradition, the House sergeant at introduced Trump with a booming, “Madam Speaker, the president of the United States.” Trump is making his way through a throng of lawmakers eager to shake his hand.
9:01 p.m.: Inside the House chamber, Chef José Andrés, an immigration activist who most recently fed furloughed workers in Washington D.C. during the 35 day government shutdown, was in the front row gallery. He was wearing a shirt that said “Immigrants Feed America” underneath a suit jacket. Andrés was the guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The seats near the aisle are swarmed with folks saying hello to the senators from both sides.Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a former House member known for working across the aisles hugged nearly every House Republican she walked past as she entered. Sinema won a competitive Senate seat in Arizona.
8:50 p.m. Trump has recently taken an increasingly hawkish stance against Iran, and he will use his speech to underscore that message. “We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants Death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish People,” Trump will say, according to excerpts of the speech.
Trump railed against the 2015 Iran nuclear deal throughout his presidential campaign. But the European countries who signed on to that agreement have tried to salvage it, including by finding ways around sanctions. Members of Trump’s own intelligence apparatus have said that Iran continues to adhere to the terms of the agreement. CIA chief Gina Haspel told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that Iran remained in “technical” compliance with the deal.
8:44 p.m. Trump has left the White House for the roughly five-minute ride up Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol, where he will deliver his second State of the Union (his third address to a joint session of Congress). He did not speak to reporters as he departed. Per the White House schedule, first lady Melania Trump had planned to leave ahead of the president. Trump’s speech is set to begin at 9 p.m. EST.
8:28 p.m. Trump has repeatedly – and inaccurately – accused Democrats of supporting “open borders.” Democrats initially offered more than $1 billion in border security money. But Democrats have consistently opposed a border wall. Trump will raise the claim again on Tuesday, according to excerpts released by the White House. “No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s WORKING CLASS and America’s POLITICAL CLASS than illegal immigration,” Trump will say, according to the excerpts. “Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.”
8:20 p.m. Just hours after Senate Republicans voted to rebuke the president’s plan to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, Trump will defend his position, noting that he frequently discussed pulling U.S. troops out of overseas conflicts during the 2016 presidential election. “As a candidate for president, I pledged a new approach,” Trump will say, according to White House excerpts. “Great nations do not fight endless wars.”
8:14 p.m. “Together, we can break decades of political stalemate,” Trump will say, according to excerpts of the speech released by the White House. “We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.”
The president will also discuss immigration, according to the excerpts.
“We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens,” Trump will say.
Politically wounded by the 35-day government shutdown, Trump will lay out a vision for the second half of his term even as his domestic agenda risks being swallowed by the looming 2020 election, a growing number of investigations and a chaotic turnover of top officials in his administration.
After two years of working with a Republican-controlled Congress, Trump must contend with a new Democratic House majority vehemently opposed to much of his agenda, including his proposal for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
White House aides said Trump’s speech would call for bipartisan cooperation but its very timing has laid bare the conflicts that have already arisen with newly empowered House Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressed Trump to reschedule the address, originally set for Jan. 29, because of the federal shutdown.
The president initially refused, and then ultimately relented.
More: When is the State of the Union address
Trump is delivering the speech as a bipartisan group of lawmakers works against a Feb. 15 deadline to hammer out a compromise on agency funding or risk another government shutdown.
The president has described that effort as a “waste of time” and has held out the possibility of declaring a national emergency to free up funding for the wall if the congressional panel does not deliver on his demand for the barrier.
Adding another element of drama to the speech: The chamber where Trump is speaking includes a bevy of Democratic lawmakers in the audience who are seeking to unseat him in 2020.
The State of the Union address gives presidents the chance to try to build public support for their legislative priorities, tout past achievements and roll out lofty policy goals. But this year’s speech is complicated by Trump’s ongoing battle over the border, which has overshadowed other issues on his domestic agenda.
If Trump were to declare a national emergency on the border, the move could allow him redirect billions of dollars in military construction projects. But it would also likely trigger a legal battle that could drag on in court for years.
Fifty-seven percent of Americans oppose another government shutdown if Congress fails to provide additional money for the wall, according to a CNN poll released Monday. But many Republicans strongly back Trump’s insistence on funding for a border wall, with more than seven in 10 saying they would support another shutdown without such funding.
Trump, meanwhile, is facing resistance from within his own party over his foreign policy. Hours before he arrived at the Capitol, the Republican-controlled Senate easily passed legislation rebuking the president’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Some Republicans have expressed an uneasiness with Trump’s trade war with China and the isolationist agenda he has pursued with NATO and the UN.
The divisions demonstrate the difficulty Trump will have convincing members of Congress to embrace his agenda for the next two years. Partisan sniping was already underway before the president delivered a single word of his address.
“The president will say the state of our union is strong, but the American people know the state of the Trump administration is in chaos,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor earlier Tuesday.
Trump fired back.
“I see Schumer is already criticizing my State of the Union speech, even though he hasn’t seen it yet,” the president posted on Twitter. “He’s just upset that he didn’t win the Senate, after spending a fortune, like he thought he would.”