The state of the union address primary purpose is to inform Congress and the American people the status of the country and the president’s goal for the upcoming legislative session. The address originally planned for January 29th was pushed back due to House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi after suggesting that the address is to be rescheduled. Speaker Pelosi cited the shutdown, which would’ve been on its 39th day at the time address, to be held after the government was reopened due to strain essential agencies would face preparing for the grandeur of the event. The President then signed a bill re-opening the government for three weeks so a bi-partisan homeland security package to sign into law including funding for the wall on the southern border. Even with the cancellation and in fighting with Democrats, President Trump held the theme of unity in his address.
“We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential. As we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans.” The beginning of the address sets the tone of collocation with Democrats as the divided government calls for compromise to achieve any substantial work. Trump went on to highlight the shared beliefs on promises that were campaigned on; defending American jobs, fair trade, revitalizing infrastructure, reducing the price of healthcare and prescription drugs and a safe, updated and secure immigration system. The reference to the campaign promises as “shared” further shows that even with the differences between the parties, common ground can be found. For example, on infrastructure, he says “I know that the Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill — and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment”.
On the other hand, the President made it known that if the House majority were not willing to compromise, he would get it done. When speaking of the funding of the southern border, “In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall –the proper wall never got built. I’ll get it built.” He later says that everyone should get together and compromise to get the package passed but he made it abundantly clear that the wall will get built and he’ll be the reason behind it. This very much could be alluding to the idea that the President has floated around in declaring a national emergency in order to secure funding for the wall, the ultimate executive power move. Following his view of executive power, the president brings up the investigation spearheaded by Robert into the Trump campaign and collusion with Russia during the 2016 Presidential Election. In his boasting of the economic growth the country has faced in his tenure with 304,000 jobs added in January, Trump states “The only things that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations, If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way!” His view of congressional oversight is clear, he believes that the investigation which he refers to as a “witch hunt”, will hinder any further growth and ability to sustain our economy. That the investigation itself is a partisan ploy to undermine his efforts and the legitimacy of his presidency which shows obvious resentment and the feeling that he as president, should not be nuanced with these type of things as it interferes with their power.
The Democratic response of the address lead by the former candidate for Governor of Georgia Stacey Abrams, served as an opposition of the sentiments expressed the president. Abrams details the chronicles of her own family who fluctuated between the lower middle class and working class sharing the hardships her parents had to endure. Through these hardships, Abrams highlights that “while success is not guaranteed, we live in a nation where opportunity is possible. But we do not succeed alone.” Abrams major disagreements come to the partial government shutdown which left hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed many working without pay. That the decision was not notable as it put the American people in hardship many not being able to pay rent and need assistance to secure food. Another area of disagreement comes from the defense of Roe v Wade a stark contrast to Trumps want to end late-term abortions. Abrams acknowledges that compromise can be met in securing the border but the displaced children must be addressed. Another area of compromise which is possible is on the fronts of agriculture, entrepreneurship and health care shared interests with President Trump.
Virginias state legislature shares similar issues in their agenda to those highlighted during the state of the union. The major legislative goal for this session is job creation, unemployment, farmland preservation, environmental justice, DACA recipients and tax policy. At the moment Virginia is contesting an abortion bill from Gov. Ralph Northam. The bill’s intention is to lift all restrictions on abortions in the state of Virginia which Republicans in the legislature have fought against in particular the provision to allow abortions in the third trimester. This aligns with Trump’s call for a bill to be signed to end late-term abortions be signed by Congress and Democrats calling for Roe v. Wade to be held up fully. However. they differ as environmental protections are seen as a bipartisan issue as Governor Norton signed an executive order establishing the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice and in a bipartisan win with legislative leaders, backed a coal ash clean-up bill enforcing Dominion Energy to clean up four coal ash ponds around the state with some dating back to the 1930s. In response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that President Donald Trump signed more than a year ago, the Senate Finance subcommittee is brainstorming options for helping Virginians who might pay higher state taxes this spring because of changes in federal law. The Virginia legislature is somewhat mirroring the state of Congress at the moment, compromising on issues which affect all people but staying true to those which are embedded in the values of the two parties respectively.
|Domestic Policy||Foreign Policy|
|Confirm nominees that are stuck in the Senate||Prevention of war with North Korea; Attending second summit with Kim Jong Un|
|To end HIV in the US by 2030||Withdrawal from INF treaty|
|500 Million to end childhood cancer over the next 10 years||Withdrawing troops from Syria|
|United States Reciprocal Trade Act: if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the same tariff on what they sell to us
| $100 billion in defense spending from allies
|Infrastructure investment||Recognized Juan Guaidó as legitimate leader of Venezuela|
|Prescription drug pricing & Transparency||New trade deal with Chinas is in talks|
|to prohibit the late-term abortion
|Speaking with afghan leaders and the Taliban|
|Increased funding for personnel on the southern border and to build the wall||Strong opposition towards Iran. Reaffirming the positive impact of Withdrawal from the nuclear deal|
|Replacing NAFTA with USMCA — the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that will re balance the trade relationship to benefit America