President Trump Delivers First State of the Union


Courtesy of Live Trading News

Lizzie Gregory

Last week, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address from the floor of the United States House of Representatives. 

In a speech lasting one hour and twenty minutes— the third longest in history, topped only by President Bill Clinton in 1995 and in 2000— President Trump encouraged unity among members of Congress. He asked that they fulfill promises made to the American people “to make America great again for all Americans.”

Seated behind the president were Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan (R-WI). First Lady Melania Trump sat in the House Gallery with guests of the president, whose names were mentioned throughout the speech. 

The floor was filled with Supreme Court Justices, members of the Cabinet, Senators and Representatives. 

The designated survivor— the member of the administration who does not attend the State of the Union in case of a disaster— was Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.  

President Trump began his speech by recapping his accomplishments from his first year in office. He touted a growing economy and resurgent stock market and the repeal of the individual mandate requiring all Americans to purchase healthcare under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. 

He announced that just before heading to the Capitol building to give the State of the Union, he signed an executive order to keep open detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.  

The president also outlined his plans for his second year in office. He called on Congress to pass an infrastructure bill worth $1.5 trillion in spending and partnership at the state level and in the private sector. 

He encouraged Congress to pass a law that provides a path to citizenship for 1.8 million “Dreamers” brought to the United States by their parents at a young age. In exchange, he asked that the law secure the border, end the visa lottery program and stop chain migration. 

Trump recommitted his plans to keep up the pressure on North Korea in the face of the oppression inflicted by the regime.

 He also stated his plans to crack down on opioid dealers and to help addicts get the treatment they need.  

The president wove into his speech various stories of his guests watching from the House Gallery, including a survivor of Pompe Disease, the wives of two police officers killed in the line of duty, a student who was the first in her family to graduate from high school and college, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who died last year, a football star killed by an illegal immigrant, the parents of Otto Warmbier, an American student who was imprisoned in North Korea, and the widow of a Navy SEAL killed in Yemen last year.  

One of the most highly critiqued moments of the speech came during President Trump’s statements regarding illegal immigration. 

Seated alongside the First Lady in the Gallery were four parents of teens murdered by gang members of MS-13. President Trump referenced the parents during his speech, recognizing their loss and showing support with a round of applause. Many Democrats and immigration advocates found the reference inappropriate. 

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) responded by saying, “MS-13 is an example of some of the worst of criminal gang behavior. To equate that with Dreamers and DACA was completely irresponsible.” 

The response from the Democrats was largely negative. The cameras panned to Democratic Members of Congress periodically throughout the speech, many of which were criticized for refusing to clap for issues seen as appealing to the Democratic Party. 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said that the President “stooped to a new low” in his speech, calling it “unwarranted and self-congratulatory.” 

Most Republicans, however, applauded the president for clearly outlining the accomplishments of the last year and stating his plans for the future. 

Speaker Ryan tweeted that the president “laid out a clear agenda tonight with an open hand toward bipartisan cooperation.”

Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) described President Trump’s speech by saying, “Overall what you saw tonight was a man who kept his campaign promises, who enjoys being president, very proud of our country and a commander in chief determined to win this war.” 

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), grandson of Attorney General Robertw F. Kennedy, gave the official response from the Democratic Party. He focused predominately on the timely issue of immigration, encouraging the American public to consider the immigrant roots of the United States. 

Kennedy said that the president’s divisive rhetoric and policy decisions was turning the American people against one another, and offered a place in the Democratic Party for all Americans: “The greatest, strongest, richest country in the world should not have to leave anyone behind.”