Trump Delivers Second State of the Union Address

Trump delivers his second State of the Union Address Tuesday. Courtesy of

By Alexander Santana

President Donald Trump delivered his second State of the Union address on Tuesday evening in the U.S. Capitol’s House of Representatives chamber. Trump spoke about many domestic and foreign policy priorities and significant pieces of legislation passed in the 115th Congress with bipartisan support. He focused his speech on the state of the U.S. economy, the need for investments in infrastructure, and America’s immigration system.

The President also mentioned the need for the United States to solve several health-related challenges facing many Americans. This included the opioid crisis and the cost of prescription drugs as well as childhood cancer and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Tuesday marked the first time Trump delivered a State of the Union speech since the Democratic Party took control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections.

With regards to the state of the American economy, Trump stated that since his 2016 election 5.3 million new jobs have been created and 600,000 new manufacturing jobs have been added as well. Trump also announced that 157 million Americans are working, the most in American history. “For the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy” he said.

Trump commented on the need for modern infrastructure and he stated he was willing to work with Congress to invest in much-needed projects across the nation dealing with airports, seaports, bridges, highways, and much more. “This is not an option” he said, “This is a necessity.”

One Catholic University student was concerned about how both political parties view each other. “I noticed there was some tension between the two parties and I’m hoping they can start to get on the same page so we aren’t faced with another shutdown” said Jake Cowan, a junior politics major.

Trump mentioned the passage of a piece of criminal justice reform that passed the 115th Congress, the First Step Act. In the gallery were two guests Alice Johnson, a first-time nonviolent offender sentenced to life in prison, and Matthew Charles, sentenced to 35 years in jail for selling drugs along with other offenses. They were examples of the President’s openness to resolving “the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing — and the need to remedy this injustice.” Trump commuted Johnson’s sentence and as a result of the First Step Act Charles was recently released.

Regarding health in America, Trump stated his budget will ask Congress to help end America’s HIV epidemic in 10 years. He also said his budget will request $500 million from Congress over the next 10 years to fund childhood cancer research. He also announced that he would be including in his budget a national paid family leave plan.

On the issue of abortion and the sanctity of human life in the United States, Trump called on Congress to approve legislation that would prohibit late-term abortions. He stated “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.”

Catholic University Associate Professor of Politics, Phillip G. Henderson, had some thoughts about this part of Trump’s speech.

“Trump drew a sharp contrast between New York legislators ‘cheering with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments from birth’ and ‘the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child’ said Henderson. “Perhaps Trump’s most eloquent line of the evening was this: ‘These are living feeling beautiful babies, who will never get the chance to share their love and their dreams with the world’ he added.

Trump mentioned several matters of international significance ranging from North Korea and Russia to Venezuela and the Middle East. On North Korea he stated that he would be meeting with its leader Kim Jong-Un on February 27th and 28th for a second summit in Vietnam. 

With regards to Russia Trump reiterated that the U.S. would withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty since he claimed Russia was violating its terms in recent years. INF was signed by President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union’s General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev and it was agreed that both nations would destroy certain ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles.

Responding to the humanitarian, economic, and political crisis in Venezuela, Trump reiterated his support and recognition of Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela. “America was founded on liberty and independence — not government coercion, domination, and control” he said. “We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”Towards the end of his speech Trump spoke about how the U.S. had retaken most of the land controlled by ISIS, the serious threat Iran poses in the region, and possible peace with the Taliban. Reflecting on almost 20 years of Americans fighting in the Middle East, Trump declared that “great nations do not fight endless wars” and “after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.”

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