What to Expect From Trump’s First State of the Union Address
President Donald Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address Tuesday, Jan. 30 at 9 p.m. EST.
Just one week after the last government shutdown ended and a little more than one week before the possibility of another, the speech comes amid a stalemate over immigration in Congress, an acceleration of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, and the lowest approval ratings for any modern president delivering his first State of the Union address.
This makes the speech the most mired in personal and political upheaval since President Bill Clinton’s State of the Union in 1999 as his impeachment hearing was underway in the Senate.
President Trump is expected to ignore the Russia investigation entirely, but other government officials will make statements during the address.
Here’s what to expect from Trump’s address Tuesday night.
Praise for the Economy
Trump will likely spend time highlighting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act—his major legislative win during his first year in office—along with improvements in the unemployment rate, GDP growth, and the U.S. stock market.
“I’m sure he’s going to talk about the economy and how terrific the stock market has been and he will pound his chest as he usually does as to his achievements, that he’s a great man and a great president,” presidential historian Robert Dallek told Bloomberg.
However, according to Pew Research, economic issues are falling as the top priority for Americans as concerns like environmental protections, infrastructure improvements, and addiction treatment gain attention.
Call for Bipartisanship
This address is one of President Trump’s major opportunities to appeal to lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and gain more support from American voters ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.
White House officials say that the president will have a less combative tone and instead focus on his policy proposals, such as infrastructure improvements, during the address.
The president’s calls for bipartisan cooperation Tuesday night will be balanced against his tweets over the weekend which continued to target Democrats.
Improving infrastructure in the U.S. is one issue where there is possibility for bipartisan action.
As public transportation systems deteriorate in many major cities and remain nonexistent in others, infrastructure is a rising concern for many American voters.
White House officials say that Trump will use his speech to highlight his proposal to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, and airports. The plan would give $200 billion in federal dollars to states and cities over 10 years in order to encourage about $800 billion in investments.
The speech may also include a call to streamline regulatory approvals in an effort to get infrastructure improvements underway more quickly, which would raise concerns about properly assessing the environmental impact of those projects.
Immigration remains a more divisive issue. Lawmakers are working to find a compromise for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the border wall in order to avoid another government shutdown.
Senators from both parties want to hear a more compassionate tone from the president Tuesday night when it comes to the DACA recipients, known as Dreamers.
Several Dreamers will be in the House chamber for the address as the guests of lawmakers.
Trump is expected to tout the White House immigration proposal in his speech. The White House plan includes a path to citizenship over 10 to 12 years for the 1.8 million individuals eligible for DACA as well as $25 billion to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., will deliver the official rebuttal from the Democrats after the president’s remarks, which will be broadcast directly after the State of the Union. Kennedy is the grandson of the late Robert Kennedy and the great-nephew of late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and late president John F. Kennedy.
Maxine Waters, a representative from California who is boycotting the speech, will also respond to the State of the Union on BET.