Feb. 5 (UPI) — President Donald Trump will deliver his second State of the Union address Tuesday night, a speech expected to call for unity and touch on issues like immigration and another possible government shutdown.
The president will deliver the belated annual address before a joint session of Congress at 9 p.m. EST in the House chamber, and will include the U.S. Supreme Court and 13 hand-picked guests by the Trump administration. The address was initially set for Jan. 27, but the shutdown pushed it back a week.
The theme for the address is “Choosing Greatness,” a continuation of his 2016 campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” the White House said Tuesday. Trump will call for “an end to the politics of resistance and retribution,” Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway said Monday.
It will be Trump’s second official State of the Union address. U.S. presidents don’t technically address the State of the Union immediately after they take office, like Trump did in 2017. Rather, those talks are considered merely a president’s first address to a joint session of Congress.
The speech gives Trump an hour to speak unfiltered to lawmakers and the American people. He’ll undoubtedly hit on the positives of his administration, like job creation and the tax overhaul. The United States added 304,000 jobs in January and has the lowest unemployment in a generation. Trump’s tax reform is credited with boosting economic spending.
Once the speech turns to immigration, Trump will look eye-to-eye with Democrats who’ve obstructed his attempts to secure $5.7 billion for a border wall with Mexico, a stalemate that shut the government down for 35 days. Trump finally made a deal late last month to end the longest shutdown in U.S. history so 800,000 furloughed federal workers could get paid again. Funding for those agencies runs out again Feb. 15 and, so far, no permanent deal has been reached.
Sunday, Trump said he could call for a national emergency, bypassing Congress to fund the wall, which could spark legal challenges. Or he could shut the government down again if Democrats refuse to negotiate.
Foreign policy will also be a hot topic Tuesday night, owing to Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria and possibly Afghanistan, the threat posed by Iran and the deteriorating situation in Venezuela.
Trump isn’t expected to mention the investigation of special counsel Robert Mueller, who’s examining Russian meddling in the 2016 election, potential collusion and the president’s dealings with the Kremlin. He could also announce a second meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The White House has invited 13 guests to attend the State of the Union address — including a sixth-grader named Josh Trump, who’s been bullied for sharing a name with the president. There will also be relatives of an elderly Nevada couple, who were allegedly killed by an illegal immigrant from El Salvador. Alice Johnson, who had a life sentence commuted by Trump in June, will also be in attendance.
After Trump’s speech, Stacey Abrams, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in Georgia, will give the Democratic response. Abrams became a symbol for voting rights after she alleged voting irregularities in the midterm election, particularly because opponent Brian Kemp was Georgia’s top elections official. She refused to concede for several weeks, but eventually backed off.
While she has the spotlight Tuesday night, Abrams will also have to beat a “curse” if she aspires to run for office again. Recent history shows the person who gives the minority party’s response to the State of the Union experienced a career decline.
In 2009, Republican Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal gave the response to President Barack Obama’s initial address, and saw his 2016 run for president fizzle out quickly. Sen. Marco Rubio famously sipped from a bottle of water during his 2013 response to Obama’s speech, a weird moment that stuck with him until he ran for president three years later.
Same goes for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, who gave the Democratic response to Trump’s inaugural address in 2017. He’d won the gubernatorial race twice in a red state but after his speech, he wasn’t heard from again.
“The setting is also so much less impressive than the State of the Union,” said John Hudak, a senior fellow of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institute in Washington.