President Donald Trump is scheduled to deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday evening, after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delayed the speech during the partial government shutdown.
The White House has hinted that the president will emphasize themes of bipartisanship, even though the address will come in the midst of bitter fights over the border, as a conference committee works against a Feb. 15 deadline to resolve the question of if and how a “wall” will be built, and how much money will be provided for its construction.
In addition, the president is said to be preparing to address five key themes:
The president’s state of the union theme will be “Choosing greatness,” according to a senior Trump administration official.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) February 1, 2019
1. Illegal immigration: The president will talk about the ongoing situation at the border, with new caravans of thousands of migrants from Central America continuing to arrive. He will, no doubt, urge Congress to provide him with the $5.7 billion he has requested for a border wall or fence. Some have speculated that he may use the State of the Union to announce that he is declaring a national emergency that would allow him to build the barrier using funds already allocated for defense. However, with the committee still working, he may merely hint at that option.
2. Trade. Trump will ask Congress to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Act, his long-sought replacement for NAFTA. Democrats, eager to deny the president a win, have said they may block the treaty because of concerns that wages in Mexico will still be too low, making U.S. wages uncompetitive. The president will pressure Democrats to relent.
3. Infrastructure. The president will likely re-introduce the idea of a massive $1 trillion infrastructure plan, only part of which will be funded by federal taxpayers, and the rest of which will be funded by private investment. The prospect of infrastructure spending has been a potential area of bipartisan cooperation since Trump took office.
4. Health care. Trump obviously feels pressure to take on the Democrats’ most potent issue, after Republicans failed to replace Obamacare, and Democrats have begun talking about “Medicare for All.” The president will likely discuss simpler options that the federal government can use to reduce the costs of health care through deregulation.
5. Foreign wars. The president will explain and defend his recent decisions to begin pulling U.S. troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. The Senate recently passed a resolution opposing those policies — though when Trump’s predecessor tried to convince Congress to support air strikes on the Assad regime, Congress balked. Trump may also revisit the past year’s successes, including moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and opening talks with North Korea toward denuclearization. He may announce a date for his upcoming summit with Kim Jong-un.