Tuesday night will be a defining moment for President Donald Trump, as he is set to deliver his very first State of the Union address.
The president, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, will speak to a packed house of lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol Building at 9:00 p.m. Trump has reportedly practiced meticulously, with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders promising the address will be “incredible.”
Here is everything you need to know about the big speech.
Trump will undoubtedly tout his economic record. One year into his presidency, unemployment sits at record lows and the stock market has reached record highs.
U.S. filings for unemployment benefits dropped to its lowest level in almost 45 years. Labor Department figures revealed that there were only 220,000 jobless claims earlier this month, the lowest numbers since February 1973. Additionally, the national unemployment rate for African-Americans is at its lowest level in 17 years.
To say the stock market is booming may be an understatement. In January, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a major stock market index, surpassed 26,000 points for the first time in its 121-year history. The milestone came fresh after the Dow broke its previous record of 25,000 points and grew at its fastest speed in history.
The president will assuredly highlight these economic accomplishments, giving large credit to the GOP tax cuts he backed. Those reforms have led to a tsunami of major U.S. companies announcing employee pay raises, bonuses and more.
Trump will touch on infrastructure spending Tuesday night as the White House foments a comprehensive bill. Unlike the tax cuts, which were shepherded through Congress solely on the backs of GOP votes, an infrastructure package is something Democrats and Trump allies may find common ground.
Trump, who has referred to himself as the “builder president,” has long championed greater investments into U.S. infrastructure, making the issue a major campaign theme when he was a candidate. After the leak of a White House infrastructure plan, it is clear the Republican president is serious about his proposals.
The draft, which was far from finalized, is a whopping $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan calling for added investments into various projects across the country. Fifty percent of the package goes to incentives for public-private partnership projects, and another 25 percent goes to boosting investment partnerships in rural communities.
The president will address immigration, a topic so controversial the federal government was sent into a three-day shutdown just a week ago.
At the heart of the issue is the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era executive order that protects young illegal immigrants from deportation. Trump is rescinding the order, but has called for a legislative fix for the program. However, in return for DACA, Republicans are demanding increases in border security, including construction of a border wall on the U.S. southern border — an initiative Democrats vehemently oppose.
The White House has released its proposal, which calls for $25 billion for a border wall and added border security, as well as a 10-12 year pathway to citizenship for approximately 1.8 million illegal immigrants. The plan has been criticized by immigration hardliners as an amnesty program for people living in the country illegally.
U.S. trade was a major tenet of Trump’s campaign, and the Republican hailed economic nationalism over the “false song” of globalism. As president, he has continued to target trade deals for reform. Upon entering office, Trump withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and has called for a review of other international trade agreements the U.S. is involved in, including NAFTA.
However, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump showcased America’s leadership in regard to the international economy, telling the audience that, “America first does not mean America alone.”
These same themes — including his APEC speech in Vietnam last year — will appear when Trump addresses the topic of trade during his State of the Union address.
Lastly, the president will address a litany of security threats the U.S. faces abroad and how his administration has worked to combat these dangers.
The world will be watching as South Korea is set to host the Winter Olympics in the city of Pyeongchang, just miles away from a belligerent North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un. The Communist dictator has continually issued threats of nuclear war against the U.S. and has adamantly worked on developing a nuclear missile program. Trump, however, has refused to capitulate, dubbing him “Rocket Man” on social media.
Trump will assuredly tout his administration’s success in the war against the Islamic State group, which has been virtually wiped off the map since he has taken office. Once a burgeoning Islamic terror organization that stretched from Syria to the borders of Iran, the group has been decimated by U.S.-led coalition forces. In the last year, the Islamic State has lost all its major cities and has been relegated to a few swaths of desert.
The White House has released the list of guests the president will bring to the State of the Union address. Invited guests include people who have benefited from the blossoming U.S. economy, a military hero, business leaders and leaders of goodwill initiatives.
One guest who will not only attend the speech, but will also visit the White House, has attracted much media attention. Evelyn Rodriguez, a registered Democrat living in New York City, has served as an activist for immigration and school reform after her teenage daughter was brutally murdered by MS-13 gang members in 2016.
Several of the gang members arrested in her daughter’s killing were living in the country illegally. The topic highlights Trump’s push for immigration reform.
THE DEMOCRAT RESPONSE
In a rebuke to the Republican president, numerous Democrats have vowed to boycott the address entirely. So far, multiple Democrat lawmakers announced they would not be attending, including vehement Trump haters Maxine Waters and Federica Wilson. Numerous Democrats also boycotted Trump’s address to Congress last year.
Following long-held tradition, the opposition party will deliver its own address after the president is done speaking. The Democratic Party has chosen Rep. Joe Kennedy III to give their official response.
Jason Hopkins is The Western Journal’s Washington, D.C., correspondent.
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