5 Things to Watch for in Trump’s State of the Union Address

February 5, 2019, 11:42 PM UTC

President Trump will deliver his second State of the Union address at 9 p.m. Eastern Time Tuesday night. Originally scheduled a week ago, the speech was postponed during the partial government shutdown. Traditionally an event that allows the President to address concerns and issues facing the country in the coming year, the speech is likely to touch on a number of topics, some of which have divided Congress.

Here are five things to watch for as Trump gives his State of the Union speech.

Immigration and a Border Wall

Trump demanded that Congress pay to build a wall along the southern U.S. border with Mexico, leading to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Trump maintains that a “crisis” of crime, drugs, and human trafficking necessitate the wall, an assessment disputed by his intelligence agencies. He is also considering declaring a national emergency to fund the wall, an option that may come up during the speech.

A Call for Bipartisanship

White House aides have indicated that the speech will take on an “aspirational” and “visionary” tone, calling for both parties to work more closely together. “Together we can break decades of political stalemate,” a draft of Trump’s prepared remarks reportedly reads. “We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future.”

U.S. Troops in Syria, Afghanistan—and Venezuela?

Trump has been defending his plans to withdraw U.S. military troops from Syria and Afghanistan, despite concerns in Congress and the Pentagon officials that the moves could destabilize those countries. He told the New York TImes that he “got elected on saying we’re getting out of these endless wars.”

The President has also said that a U.S. military intervention in Venezuela was “an option,” following a disputed Presidential election in the country. The speech will offer Trump the opportunity to clarify his foreign policies in these countries.

A Plan for Rebuilding Infrastructure

A year ago, the tax reform that Trump and Republicans in Congress crafted was touted as a boon for the economy. But with economists expecting growth in the U.S. GDP to slow this year, Trump may need another plan to rekindle the economy.

Infrastructure spending is popular with both parties, and Trump has previously called for more spending on roads, bridges, and the energy grid. He may do so again, although the divided Congress may may implementing such a plan difficult.

The Reaction of Democrats and Republicans

The body language of Congressional leaders during State of the Union speeches often serves as a silent statement on the President’s words. Unlike last year, Democrat house speaker Nancy Pelosi will be sitting behind Trump as he speaks. The Democrats have been marshaling their counter-response to the President’s speech.

But Trump’s support among his own party has also been strained because of the shutdown and his foreign-policy moves. Tonight will give Republicans a chance to stand solidly behind Trump, or to subtly signal their disagreements with them.