Trump addresses nation during State of the Union

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WASHINGTON (WLNS, AP, CBS) – President Trump is delivering the final State of the Union address of his first term today.

The address comes on the even of when the Senate is expected to acquit him of the two articles of impeachment passed by the House in December.

David Bernhardt, the Interior Secretary, is the designated survivor for the evening, meaning that he is the cabinet secretary who is not attending the address in case of a disaster that takes out Mr. Trump and other members of Congress.

In case of such a catastrophe, Bernhardt would become the president.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó is attending President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night on Capitol Hill.

The invitation comes as Guaidó has been trying to win face time with Trump, his most important international ally.

Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is an honored guest of President Donald Trump’s for his State of the Union address.

Limbaugh was seated next to first lady Melania Trump in the congressional gallery for Tuesday’s speech. He has been a steadfast supporter of President Trump and his policies over the years.

President Trump entered the chamber shortly after 9 p.m. to applause and cheers from Republican members.

When Pelosi introduced Mr. Trump ahead of his address, she left out the customary phrase, “I have the high privilege and distinct honor of” introducing the president of the United States.

Instead, she simply introduced him as “the president of the United States.”

Nancy Pelosi extends her hand to President Trump before his State of the Union address, but he does not shake it.

President Trump began his speech insisting the economy is extremely strong, and the country is respected again around the world.

President Trump, who has encouraged other allied nations to pay more for defense and has built his foreign policy around a concept of “America first,” said the “downsizing” of America’s reputation has been utterly rejected.

“We have totally rejected the downsizing,” the president said.

The president told the crowd the state of the union is “stronger than ever before.”

President Trump’s speech is punctuated by frequent applause and standing ovations from the Republican side of the House chamber, but most Democrats are refusing to clap or stand for the president. As President Trump touted the economy, most Democrats remained seated.

Wages are rising, and “wonderfully,” are rising fastest for low-income workers, he said. The president claimed a record number of young Americans are employed, that the unemployment rate for African-American workers is at a record low, and that millions of Americans have come off food stamps.

“This is a blue-collar boom,” the president said.

Jobs, President Trump claimed, are “pouring” into struggling neighborhoods through opportunity zones, crediting South Carolina’s Senator Tim Scott.

“This is the first time that these deserving communities have seen anything like this,” President Trump said.

Democrats have largely avoided applauding President Trump’s address, but the president received bipartisan applause when he touted the criminal justice reform bill passed last year.

“Everyone was saying criminal justice reform couldn’t be done,” President Trump said, without mentioning that it was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who refused to bring criminal justice bills to the Senate floor while President Obama was in office.

“The people in this room got it done,” President Trump said.

President Trump praised the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, which was signed by the president last month after being passed by Congress on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis. President Trump railed at its precursor, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) when he was a candidate, and he made replacing the trade deal a key part of his agenda.

“Unfair trade is perhaps the single biggest reason that I decided to run for president,” Trump said. “I keep my promises, we did our job.”

Pelosi shook her head as Trump mentioned USMCA. The president did not note that Pelosi had been a key player in negotiating the final trade deal and helped to lock in support for the deal from labor unions.

President Trump highlighted the plight of Venezuelans, noting his administration has been fighting against the regime of Nicolas Maduro.

“Joining us in the gallery is the true and legitimate president of Venezuela, Juan Guaido,” Mr. Trump said, as Guaido solemnly waved.

The president used the opportunity to highlight what his White House sees as the evils of socialism.

“Socialism destroys nations. But always remember, freedom unifies the soul,” President Trump said.

Trump touted the newly established Space Force, the branch of the military which was officially formed last month. He introduced one of the White House guests, 13-year-old Iain Lanphier, who aspires to join the Space Force as an adult.

“Iain has always dreamed of going to space. He was first in his class and among the youngest at an aviation academy. He aspires to go to the Air Force Academy, and then he has his eye on the Space Force. As Iain says, ‘most people look up at space. I want to look down on the world,'” President Trump said.

The president also praised Iain’s great-grandfather, another guest of the White House, Charles McGee. McGee is one of the last surviving Tuskegee airmen, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday. President Trump recently signed a bill promoting McGee to brigadier general.

McGee, who was wearing his uniform, received a standing ovation from both parties.

Picking up on a key issue for the Republican party and his education secretary, Betsy Devos, the president emphasized the importance of allowing families to choose where their students go to school. Too many children have been “trapped” in government schools, the president said.

Eighteen states, President Trump said, have created school choice through opportunity scholarships. President Trump pointed out one student on a wait list for such a scholarship, Janiyah Davis, a fourth-grade student from Philadelphia who is one of the White House guests seated in the first lady’s box.

Pennsylvania’s governor has vetoed school choice legislation. But in his speech, President Trump announced the young girl is being awarded an opportunity scholarship, and will be going to the “school of your choice.”

The president urged more states to pass school choice initiatives.

Trump praised one of the White House guests, radio host Rush Limbaugh, who was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Limbaugh is an extremely controversial figure who hosts a popular right-wing radio show.

“Rush Limbaugh, thank you for your decades of tireless devotion to our country. Rush, in recognition of all that you have done for our Nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight that you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” President Trump said.

Limbaugh gasped and teared up when President Trump made this announcement. First lady Melania Trump then presented Limbaugh with the honor as they stood in the visitors gallery.

In a rare call for bipartisanship, President Trump urged members of Congress to work on legislation to lower prescription drug prices.

“Working together, the Congress can reduce drug prices substantially from current levels. I have been speaking to Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa and others in the Congress in order to get something on drug pricing done, and done quickly and properly,” President Trump said. “I am calling for bipartisan legislation that achieves the goal of dramatically lowering prescription drug prices. Get a bill to my desk, and I will sign it into law without delay.”

The House has also passed legislation to lower prescription drug prices. This legislation is unlikely to reach the Senate floor. When President Trump mentioned this goal, Pelosi shook her head. Several Democrats stood and chanted “H.R. 3” — the House bill to lower prescription drug prices.

Trump took a shot at Democrats, including some senators running for president who support “Medicare for All.”

“There are those who want to take away your healthcare, take away your doctor, and abolish private insurance entirely,” President Trump warned, pointing to 132 lawmakers who “have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our healthcare system.”

They would be “wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans,” he said. “We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare!”

He also railed against Democrats who support legislation to provide undocumented immigrants with government-funded health care, saying, “over 130 lawmakers would bankrupt our nation by providing free taxpayer-funded healthcare to millions of illegal aliens.”

He promised, “We will always protect your Medicare and your Social Security,” although he signaled in January that he would consider cuts to these programs.

Trump called for legislation to ban late-term abortion, a measure sought by his conservative base.

“Whether we are Republican, Democrat, or Independent, surely we must all agree that every human life is a sacred gift from God!” President Trump said.

He also praised recent legislation that provides paid family leave for all federal workers, a bipartisan provision included in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act.

The president also brought up one of the signature issues that helped get him elected: Illegal immigration.

Using vivid language, the president described crimes committed by immigrants who were in the U.S. illegally and blasted so-called sanctuary cities that decline to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

“Tragically, there are many cities in America where radical politicians have chosen to provide sanctuary for these criminal illegal aliens. In sanctuary cities, local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens to prey upon the public, instead of handing them over to ICE to be safely removed.”

The president also highlighted the most prominent symbol of his campaign, the wall he has long sought, saying his administration has completed more than 100 miles. Almost all of these miles of wall have been built in areas where some barrier already existed.

In a rare moment of unity, Pelosi and other House Democrats stood to applaud the president’s call to fund the nation’s infrastructure, something he’s said he’d tackle for years. The president called on Congress to pass a highway bill proposed by Republican Senator John Barrasso.

Trump touted the strikes that killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, and Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. The strike that killed Soleimani was particularly controversial and resulted in a retaliatory strike from Iran on U.S. military bases in Iraq.

“As the world’s top terrorist, Soleimani orchestrated the deaths of countless men, women, and children. He directed the December assault on United States Forces in Iraq, and was actively planning new attacks. That is why, last month, at my direction, the United States Military executed a flawless precision strike that killed Soleimani and terminated his evil reign of terror forever,” President Trump said. “Our message to the terrorists is clear: You will never escape American justice. If you attack our citizens, you forfeit your life!”

In response to the strike that killed Soleimani, the House passed measures to prevent President Trump from engaging in hostilities with Iran.

A protester has interrupted President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech by shouting at him to do something about gun violence.

The protester appeared to be Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jamie, was among 17 people killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

Guttenberg is a well-known visitor to Capitol Hill advocating for gun violence prevention. He interrupted a section of Trump’s speech about support for the Second Amendment, and he was removed from the House visitors’ gallery.

Guttenberg was the guest of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s. He tweeted his thanks to her earlier Tuesday for the invitation and her “commitment”to “dealing with gun violence.”

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