President Trump will use his State of the Union address Tuesday night to call for Democrats and Republicans to work together to tackle major issues, in a bid to ease the deep partisan rancor that recently fueled the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.
“Together, we can break decades of political stalemate,” the president will say, according to excerpts released ahead of the speech. “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.”
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The president will also say, “The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican Agenda or a Democrat Agenda. It is the agenda of the American People.”
But the president will not back down from speaking out against illegal immigration, as he pushes for billions from Congress for border security.
“No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration,” Trump will say. “Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.”
He also plans to say with regard to foreign policy, “As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars.”
The lead-up to this year’s speech to Congress has been particularly dramatic: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initially invited the president to deliver the State of the Union on Jan. 29. But she later moved to delay the speech, citing the ongoing partial government shutdown. The president then abruptly denied military aircraft to Pelosi for a foreign trip.
Pelosi, who regained the speakership after Democrats re-took the House in November, will be seated behind Trump in the House chamber on Tuesday night.
Tuesday night’s date for this year’s State of the Union was ultimately agreed upon after the president in January signed a bill reopening the government for three weeks. But that standoff is not resolved. Trump has refused to sign a government funding bill that does not include money for his long-promised border wall, and has called on Congress to make a deal with him on border security ahead of a Feb. 15 funding deadline.
The president has suggested he could declare a national emergency to secure funding for the border wall if Congress doesn’t act.
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Trump and his top aides have also hinted that he is likely to use the address to announce a major milestone in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria. Despite the objections of some advisers, Trump announced in December that he was withdrawing U.S. forces in Syria.
Ahead of the speech, Trump sparred with Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
“I see Schumer is already criticizing my State of the Union speech, even though he hasn’t seen it yet,” the president tweeted. “He’s just upset that he didn’t win the Senate, after spending a fortune, like he thought he would. Too bad we weren’t given more credit for the Senate win by the media!”
Speaking to reporters ahead of the speech, Schumer said, “President Trump will say the state of our union is strong. But the American people know the truth.” He also quipped that, “I’m glad President Trump will be the warmup act for Stacey Abrams.”
Democrats have tapped Abrams, who lost the Georgia gubernatorial race in November to Republican Brian Kemp, to deliver the Democratic response to the president. Abrams has been encouraged to run for the Senate in 2020 against incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue.
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Among the president’s guests will be Delaware 6th-grade student Joshua Trump, who says he has been bullied at school because of his name. Family members of Gerald and Sharon David, the Nevada couple allegedly murdered last month by an illegal immigrant, will also be in attendance, as well as Alice Johnson, whom Trump granted clemency last year while she was serving a life-term sentence without parole for a nonviolent drug crime.
In the audience will be several Democrats running to challenge Trump in 2020, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Cabinet officials, members of Congress, military leaders, top diplomats and Supreme Court justices will also all be in the same place at the same time for all the world to see — creating a series of security challenges for multiple law enforcement agencies, led by the U.S. Secret Service.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.