Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address. Here’s what to expect and how to watch.
President Donald Trump will give his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 30, at 9 pm ET in the Capitol. Marking the first year of his presidency, the speech will be delivered as the White House seeks to draw attention to its accomplishments on the tax overhaul and the economy and away from the ongoing Russia probe. The address also comes about a week before another potential government shutdown.
The theme of Trump’s address will be “building a safe, strong, and proud America,” a senior White House official said in a briefing with reporters last week. The official said the president will speak “from the heart” in talking about his accomplishments and the road ahead. “People will be reminded — in some cases, surprised — but will be reminded about how much President Trump has accomplished in his first year for all Americans,” the official said.
It might be a tough sell, given that Trump is a historically unpopular figure. The latest Gallup poll finds Trump’s approval rating is at just 36 percent. According to FiveThirtyEight’s average of polling, 38.8 percent of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing. At the same time in their presidencies, Barack Obama’s approval was at 48.8 percent, George W. Bush’s 78.6 percent, and Bill Clinton’s 54.4 percent.
Five main items are on the agenda
The president will highlight five issues during Tuesday’s address: jobs and the economy, infrastructure, immigration, trade, and national security. He will tout the Republican tax bill, passed in December, and the strength of the US economy and stock market. While addressing a joint session of Congress shortly after his inauguration last year, Trump bragged that the market had gained about $3 trillion in value since his election. The market continues to hit record highs.
Trump campaigned on a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, though details thus far have been slim. Axios last week published a leaked document that reportedly contained the outlines of the White House’s infrastructure proposal. The plan emphasizes federal grants to pay for portions of projects, with a combination of state, local, and private funding making up the difference. Trump at a gathering of mayors at the White House last week brought up the plan, saying that it will “actually probably end up being about $1.7 trillion.”
Immigration — the issue at the center of the recent government shutdown — will likely be among the most contentious items Trump discusses. Democrats, Republicans, and the White House have yet to strike a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), which protects about 700,000 undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children. The White House has put out a framework that contains a DACA fix but also has in it some tough pills to swallow for Democrats and immigration advocates, including the elimination of several family-based immigration categories and the diversity visa lottery.
Democrats will counter Trump’s message — and some will skip the event altogether
Democrats have selected Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) to deliver the official response to Trump’s State of the Union. Kennedy, a rising star in the Democratic Party, will lay out the Democratic Party’s vision for the country. “From health care to economic justice to civil rights, the Democratic agenda stands in powerful contrast to President Trump’s broken promises to American families,” he said in a statement. “Our vision for this union is guided by a simple belief that equality and economic dignity should be afforded to every American.”
From health care to economic justice to civil rights, the Democratic agenda stands in powerful contrast to President Trump’s broken promises to American families. Deeply honored to be chosen to deliver the response to the State of the Union next week. Stay tuned for updates!— Rep. Joe Kennedy III (@RepJoeKennedy) January 26, 2018
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) will deliver a televised address on BET after Trump’s speech as well. She is among multiple Democratic lawmakers who have said they plan to skip Trump’s speech, including Reps. John Lewis (D-GA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA).
In recognition of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and taking a cue from Hollywood women at the Golden Globes, many female Democratic lawmakers plan to wear black to Trump’s State of the Union in solidarity with movements protesting sexual harassment and misconduct.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), one of the figures spearheading efforts to address sexual misconduct in Congress, is also leading the push to wear black to Trump’s Tuesday speech. “I hope we see men and women across the House floor wearing black and embracing the concept that we do not tolerate sexual harassment,” she told USA Today. “Whether you’re in Hollywood or in politics, we will show sexual harassment will not be tolerated.”
How to watch: 9 pm Eastern time
Where: The Capitol, Washington, DC
TV: CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, PBS, Univision, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, C-SPAN, Telemundo, etc.