The Agenda of the US
President Donald Trump appeared before a divided Congress for the first time on Tuesday to appeal to lawmakers’ sense of unity at a moment of deepening partisan spite.
His calls for conciliation were met with mostly stone-faced silence from Democrats, who bitterly oppose his agenda and accuse him of hastening the decline in cross-party cooperation. It was his first time addressing the Democratic-majority House, and his political nemesis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, offered applause only sparingly.
“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution,” Trump told Congress near the beginning of his State of the Union address, claiming in his speech that he is putting forward “the agenda of the United States.”
“In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built,” Trump said in the highly anticipated speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress, with his main Democratic adversary, new House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, watching over his shoulder. Democrats call the wall a waste of money and ineffective.
At the same time, Trump warned that Democratic efforts to investigate his administration, along with the possibility of U.S. involvement in wars abroad, would endanger the U.S. economy. “An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,” he said.
His remarks came as Democrats who now control the House planned a series of probes into the Trump administration and a special prosecutor investigates Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Russia denies meddling and Trump has said there was no collusion.
Apart from lauding economic accomplishments – unemployment near a five-decade low and manufacturing job growth among them – Trump’s speech was light on new initiatives to further stoke growth in an economy seen as losing momentum as it began 2019. A Reuters poll last month forecast economic growth would slow to 2.1 percent this year after likely averaging around 3 percent in 2018.
Trump also called attention to his efforts to rewrite trade deals with China and other nations to make the terms more favorable to the United States. As his economic advisers work to complete a trade deal with China, Trump said any agreement “must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.” He also called out Iran for threats against Israel.
Trump also called attention to his efforts to rewrite trade deals with China and other nations to make the terms more favorable to the United States. Trump also addressed foreign policy, including support for an effort to coax Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro into leaving power and declaring the Islamic State militant group all but defeated.