WASHINGTON — President Trump will attempt to turn the successes of his first year in office — tax cuts, deregulation and an offensive against the Islamic State — into a second-year agenda that he says will bring about a “new American moment.”
“There has never been a better time to start living the American dream,” Trump will say, according to advance excerpts of the speech released by the White House.
That optimistic tone underscores what’s expected to be an appeal for bipartisanship on the two issues that could define Trump’s second year: Immigration and infrastructure.
Trump will say he wants to extend an “open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed.”
In a pre-speech interview with news anchors, he spoke of ending decades of divisiveness in American politics, and how he himself ran for office as a businessman but has learned to “govern with heart.”
As with most modern State of the Union addresses, the Trump’s speech is both credit-claiming victory lap and agenda-setting legislative proposals.
Trump will once again tout the tax cut bill he signed into law in December that will “provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.” He’ll say he’s “ended the war on clean coal,” cut more regulations than any other president, and canceled trade deals that he says are one-sided and unfair.
But the State of the Union speech isn’t just a report on the year that’s passed. The Constitution requires the president to give an annual report to Congress and “recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Trump has a weighty legislative agenda he’d like to get through a Republican-dominated Congress before November’s elections change the legislative math.
At the top of that list: Infrastructure and immigration.
“I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve,” Trump will say.
“Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families,” the speech says. “So tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed.”
Trump’s first State of the Union address presents a unique challenge for Trump, a president more accustomed to speaking in 280-character tweets and brief exchanges with reporters than an hour-long formal address.
The prime-time televised address also gives Trump an unfiltered opportunity to talk about his presidency without the distraction of daily headlines about the Russia investigation and White House intrigue.
Trump’s tone will be perhaps as carefully measured as the substance of his speech. While Trump is often combative in his relations with Congress — even members of his own party — State of the Union addresses often extol the virtues of bipartisanship.