Trump’s First Speech to Congress


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US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) applaud US President Donald J. Trump. This was Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress. Trump concluded his speech by saying “God Bless these United States.”

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, President Donald J. Trump addressed a Joint Session of Congress. This was Trump’s first time speaking to Congress since his inauguration. He started his first address to Congress by addressing the threats to Jewish community centers, vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and the shooting of two Indian men in Kansas.

“Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its very ugly forms,” Trump said. “Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice – in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present. That torch is now in our hands.” Trump has been criticized for not speaking out about these problems previously.

Themes that were prominent in Mr. Trump’s campaign were repeated throughout his speech to Congress, including his plan to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. “We will soon begin the construction of a great, great wall along our southern border,” Trump said. However, Tuesday night, Trump failed to say who would pay for this wall. Mr. Trump has previously claimed that Mexico will pay for the possible 700 mile wall; Mexico has said that they will not pay for the wall.

Trump’s speech came just hours after telling reporters he wants to pass an immigration reform bill that could potentially grant legal status to undocumented immigrants currently living in America. “The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” Trump said on Tuesday. An amended bill of his previous bill banning incoming immigrants from seven muslim-majority countries is planned on being unveiled in the new week or two. His first executive order was blocked only 13 days after being put into effect. His speech gave him an opportunity to explain, in his mind, the need for the ban.

“My Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security. By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone. We want all Americans to succeed- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders,” Trump said.

The President’s went on to other main parts of his agenda, which include repealing and replacing Obamacare, a tax overhaul, and appointing a new Supreme Court Judge.

“Tonight I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time provide better healthcare,” Trump said. “Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available for everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance and that is what we will do.”

President Trump also spoke to another major goal of his: tax reform. “My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class,” Trump said.

Trump also recognized his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. “Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a Justice to the United States Supreme Court…who will defend our Constitution. To fill his [Antonin Scalia] seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law. He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.”

Trump switched up his tone of speaking in Tuesday’s speech. He used more anecdotes than his previous speeches. According to media who had the speech text previously, President Trump stayed on script most of the night.

The President’s speech could not come at a more needed time for him. Trump’s approval ratings are in uncharted territory for a modern-day president so early in his time in office: 44 percent of Americans approve of  Trump thus far, while 48 percent disapprove, according to a NBC poll published on Sunday.

Trump concluded his speech with a positive outlook on the future: “Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America.”