Updates as President Trump addresses Congress

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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will use his State of the Union address Tuesday to push for a border wall and other priorities in a new era of divided government in Washington.

Here’s what’s happening now:

9:09 p.m. Trump has begun his speech. His early remarks offered a nod toward bipartisanship at a time of deep division. “The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democratic agenda, it’s the agenda of the American people,” he said. 

9:06 p.m.: Energy secretary and former Texas governor Rick Perry the designated survivor for Tuesday’s State of the Union address, according to a White House official. Presidents have long selected a Cabinet member to skip the State of the Union in case disaster strikes and wipes out the government during the speech. 

9:03 p.m. President Trump has entered the the House chamber. Per tradition, the House sergeant at introduced Trump with a booming, “Madam Speaker, the president of the United States.” Trump is making his way through a throng of lawmakers eager to shake his hand. 

9:01 p.m.: Inside the House chamber, Chef José Andrés, an immigration activist who most recently fed furloughed workers in Washington D.C. during the 35 day government shutdown, was in the front row gallery. He was wearing a shirt that said “Immigrants Feed America” underneath a suit jacket. Andrés was the guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The seats near the aisle are swarmed with folks saying hello to the senators from both sides.Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., a former House member known for working across the aisles hugged nearly every House Republican she walked past as she entered. Sinema won a competitive Senate seat in Arizona.

8:50 p.m. Trump has recently taken an increasingly hawkish stance against Iran, and he will use his speech to underscore that message. “We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants Death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish People,” Trump will say, according to excerpts of the speech.

Trump railed against the 2015 Iran nuclear deal throughout his presidential campaign. But the European countries who signed on to that agreement have tried to salvage it, including by finding ways around sanctions. Members of Trump’s own intelligence apparatus have said that Iran continues to adhere to the terms of the agreement. CIA chief Gina Haspel told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that Iran remained in “technical” compliance with the deal.

8:44 p.m. Trump has left the White House for the roughly five-minute ride up Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol, where he will deliver his second State of the Union (his third address to a joint session of Congress). He did not speak to reporters as he departed. Per the White House schedule, first lady Melania Trump had planned to leave ahead of the president. Trump’s speech is set to begin at 9 p.m. EST.

8:28 p.m. Trump has repeatedly – and inaccurately – accused Democrats of supporting “open borders.” Democrats initially offered more than $1 billion in border security money. But Democrats have consistently opposed a border wall. Trump will raise the claim again on Tuesday, according to excerpts released by the White House.  “No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s WORKING CLASS and America’s POLITICAL CLASS than illegal immigration,” Trump will say, according to the excerpts. “Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.”  

8:20 p.m. Just hours after Senate Republicans voted to rebuke the president’s plan to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, Trump will defend his position, noting that he frequently discussed pulling U.S. troops out of overseas conflicts during the 2016 presidential election. “As a candidate for president, I pledged a new approach,” Trump will say, according to White House excerpts. “Great nations do not fight endless wars.”

8:14 p.m. “Together, we can break decades of political stalemate,” Trump will say, according to excerpts of the speech released by the White House. “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.”

The president will also discuss immigration, according to the excerpts. 

“We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens,” Trump will say. 

Politically wounded by the 35-day government shutdown, Trump will lay out a vision for the second half of his term even as his domestic agenda risks being swallowed by the looming 2020 election, a growing number of investigations and a chaotic turnover of top officials in his administration. 

After two years of working with a Republican-controlled Congress, Trump must contend with a new Democratic House majority vehemently opposed to much of his agenda, including his proposal for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

White House aides said Trump’s speech would call for bipartisan cooperation but its very timing has laid bare the conflicts that have already arisen with newly empowered House Democrats. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pressed Trump to reschedule the address, originally set for Jan. 29, because of the federal shutdown.

The president initially refused, and then ultimately relented.  

More: When is the State of the Union address

Trump is delivering the speech as a bipartisan group of lawmakers works against a Feb. 15 deadline to hammer out a compromise on agency funding or risk another government shutdown.

The president has described that effort as a “waste of time” and has held out the possibility of declaring a national emergency to free up funding for the wall if the congressional panel does not deliver on his demand for the barrier. 

Adding another element of drama to the speech: The chamber where Trump is speaking includes a bevy of Democratic lawmakers in the audience who are seeking to unseat him in 2020.

The State of the Union address gives presidents the chance to try to build public support for their legislative priorities, tout past achievements and roll out lofty policy goals. But this year’s speech is complicated by Trump’s ongoing battle over the border, which has overshadowed other issues on his domestic agenda. 

If Trump were to declare a national emergency on the border, the move could allow him redirect billions of dollars in military construction projects. But it would also likely trigger a legal battle that could drag on in court for years. 

Fifty-seven percent of Americans oppose another government shutdown if Congress fails to provide additional money for the wall, according to a CNN poll released Monday. But many Republicans strongly back Trump’s insistence on funding for a border wall, with more than seven in 10 saying they would support another shutdown without such funding. 

Trump, meanwhile, is facing resistance from within his own party over his foreign policy. Hours before he arrived at the Capitol, the Republican-controlled Senate easily passed legislation rebuking the president’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Some Republicans have expressed an uneasiness with Trump’s trade war with China and the isolationist agenda he has pursued with NATO and the UN.    

The divisions demonstrate the difficulty Trump will have convincing members of Congress to embrace his agenda for the next two years. Partisan sniping was already underway before the president delivered a single word of his address. 

“The president will say the state of our union is strong, but the American people know the state of the Trump administration is in chaos,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor earlier Tuesday. 

Trump fired back. 

“I see Schumer is already criticizing my State of the Union speech, even though he hasn’t seen it yet,” the president posted on Twitter. “He’s just upset that he didn’t win the Senate, after spending a fortune, like he thought he would.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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