On Tuesday Feb. 5, President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union address to Congress in Washington D.C. The chambers were filled with both parties as well as invited guests for a discussion about current political issues.
“The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or Democrat agenda; it is the agenda of the American people,” said President Trump at the beginning of his speech. He then went into events that have occurred during his time in office, as well as what he plans to get done in the upcoming months.
The shutdown was mentioned, as well as allocating funds to border security— specifically the wall. “Simply put, walls work, and walls save lives,” says President Trump when referencing a section of wall built in El Paso, Texas.
In Stacey Abrams democratic rebuttal, she said, “America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants, not walls.” Stacey Abrams was the 2018 Democratic candidate for Georgia’s gubernatorial election. She is the first African American women to deliver the rebuttal.
Another topic mentioned was the advancement of women, especially when it comes to employment. President Trump stated that 58% of the jobs filled were by females. There is also a record number of women serving in congress currently.
In the chambers, many of the women, specifically of the democratic party, made the decision to wear all white. This represents the fight for women’s suffrage and symbolizes how far the United States has come. 2019 marks the centennial anniversary of women receiving the right to vote through the 19th amendment.
The economy was brought up throughout the speech. President Trump called the current state an “unprecedented economic boom” with the creation of 5.3 million jobs, 600,000 of which were manufacturing. He also drew attention to the lowest unemployment in 50 years.
Regarding energy, the United States has become a net exporter of energy for the first time in 65 years. America is the number one producer of both oil and natural gas in the world according to President Trump.
There have been changes when it comes to health care. The Obamacare mandate penalty was eliminated and the Right to Try Act was passed. This allows people who are critically ill to obtain assistance when they are sick. Abrams advocated for advances that would lower the cost of medications.
Due to the public outcry surrounding the passing of a new abortion law in New York, it was briefly mentioned in the State of the Union Address. President Trump asked congress for legislation against late-term abortions. In her rebuttal, Abrams says, “We must never forget it is immoral to allow politicians to harm women and families to advance a political agenda.”
Foreign relations were discussed in terms of the military and treaties. There was $700 billion invested last year in the armed forces and $716 billion this year. The United States has also started building a missile defense system. In terms of treaties, President Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear deal and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia. In addition, NAFTA is being replaced by the USMCA, or United StatesMexico-Canada agreement in an attempt to bring jobs back to the country. Abrams advocated for gun control legislation and bills to aid in student loans in order to help further the education for the younger generations. Unity was a theme in the speech. “If there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation… We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad,” says President Trump. This specifically led to his discussion of attempting to get his nominations selected. President Trump and Abrams both mentioned that Congress could come together to pass more legislation.
Criminal justice reform is one example. Matthew Charles is an example of this. Charles was sentenced in 1996 to 35 years in prison for drug related offenses. He was able to lead Bible studies and become a law clerk in the 20 years he served. Charles was the first person to be released under the First Step Act and attended the State of the Union address.
This address was originally scheduled for Jan. 29 but was postponed due to the 35-day government shutdown that ended Jan. 25. It was mentioned that the government could shut down again Feb. 15 if a new budget is not agreed upon before then.