Trump to Offer Optimistic Vision in State of the Union Address

February 3, 2019 Updated: February 4, 2019

WASHINGTON—In his second State of the Union address, President Donald Trump will hit on several major bipartisan topics, but a focus on border security will likely outweigh them all.

The theme of the Feb. 5  speech is “choosing greatness,” according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters at the White House on Feb. 1.

“In his address, the president will cast an inspiring vision of American greatness,” the official said. “He will outline a policy agenda that both parties can rally behind to achieve this vision. The president will express confidence in this hopeful future and encourage Congress to reject the politics of resistance and retribution, and, instead, adopt a spirit of cooperation and compromise so we can achieve it.”

The official outlined five key areas of the speech, including immigration, protecting American workers, infrastructure, lowering health care costs, and national security.

Tightening border security and decreasing illegal immigration have become hot-button issues that culminated in the longest government shutdown in history, with another one looming.

“The president will reaffirm the determination to stop illegal immigration, human trafficking, the flow of drugs and crime,” the official said.

Trump intends to update Congress on the trading relationship with China, as well as urge the chambers to pass both the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the Reciprocal Trade Act.

High-level U.S.–China trade talks concluded on Jan. 31, with progress made toward a trade deal and a Chinese commitment to buy more U.S. soybeans. The White House has said that if both sides fail to reach a satisfactory outcome by March 1, the United States will increase tariffs on Chinese goods.

“The president will also talk broadly about rebuilding America,” the senior administration official said. “He’ll ask Congress to produce an infrastructure package that delivers substantial investments in vital national infrastructure projects.”

Trump will also tout last year’s success in lowering drug prices and call on Congress to support the administration’s efforts to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs.

Finally, the president will update Congress on his “diplomatic and military efforts around the world and reaffirm his determination to protect American interest and bring to an end our endless foreign wars,” the official said. The official said Trump will address the political turmoil in Venezuela, but declined to name other countries included in the speech.

When asked whether Trump will weigh in on the recent furor over late-term abortions and infanticide, the official said “the president will talk about the fundamental importance of respecting human life.”

The official reiterated the broad, bipartisan support for the main topics.

“Democrats have talked for years about lowering the cost of drugs and the cost of health care,” he said. “They’ve talked about the need for infrastructure. They’ve talked about protecting American workers and they’ve talked about putting an end to America’s foreign engagements. And frankly, they’ve also talked about the need to have a safe and secure border. So there is very broad agreement.”

The official said the tone of the State of the Union speech is optimistic, visionary, and will likely run a little short of last year’s 81 minutes. Trump will make references to gallery guests, as he did last year with the parents of children killed by illegal aliens, a North Korean defector, guests related to the opioid crisis, law enforcement, and business and trade.

The official provided an excerpt from the speech as prepared for delivery: “Together, we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.”

Democrats have chosen former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to deliver their response to the State of the Union.

Follow Charlotte on Twitter: @charlottecuthbo
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