President Donald Trump will address a Joint Session of Congress in what is effectively his first State of the Union address. He is expected to flesh out themes that became common during his presidential campaign, but also address some of the challenges he has faced in less than a month and a half on the job. Here follow some issues that he is likely to address:
• Reforming health insurance: On Fox News, Trump spoke to the complexity of the Affordable Care Act the time needed to repeal and replace it. After praising House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), he said that Congress and the administration are being blamed for the delay. "They've been working on health care for 30 years. "I've only been here, what is this, my fifth week?" He promised that the replacement for Obamacare will be "really respected. On Monday, while meeting insurance company execs, he vowed that this year will be "catastrophic" for Obamacare, which is his predecessor’s signature legacy. Not to be outdone, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has invited a woman with a child who is covered by the measure to the president’s speech.
• Immigration: Trump’s guests include three people family members of persons murdered by illegal aliens. This may be signal that he will press again for improved border security and a wall. On Wednesday, Trump is expected to sign another immigration-related executive order.
• Education: The president is also inviting Denisha Merriweather, a woman who the White House says is the first to graduate college. In Florida, she switched to a private school after struggling at a public school. Trump may mention her story and thus shore up Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos -- a noted advocate of charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools -- who continues to experience criticism, especially from teachers unions.
• Defense spending: On Fox News, Trump proclaimed as a success what he said were billions of dollars saved in defense spending, even while on Monday he proposed a $54 billion increase in military spending..
• During his Fox News interview, Trump graded himself as to his messaging at a "C or a C+" level. "I think I've done great things but I, and my people,” he said. Trump added, “I don't think we've explained it well enough to the American public."
Trump’s speech begins at 9 p.m. ET on Tuesday night.
.@MaxineWaters is skipping Trump's speech to Congress. Told caucus this morning that anyone who can't sit still shouldn't go, per sources.
Congressional Democrats and supporters can be expected to troll the president, even during his speech, which will be his first joint address to Congress and a near equivalent to a State of the Union address.
While dozens of Democrats refused to attend Trump’s presidential inauguration, there appears to be a different strategy afoot this time. While Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said that she will not attend the speech, and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) may also skip out, Congressional Democrats are bringing special guests to the galleries. To be expected are: Muslims from countries encompassed by Trump’s contested executive order banning travel from seven mostly-Muslim countries; so-called DREAMers -- persons covered by Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program; Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez (Obama’s Secretary of Labor and former head of the civil rights division of the Department of Justice) has been invited by Democratic Party co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).
Steve Beshear, a Democrat who is a former governor of Kentucky, will offer a televised rebuttal of Trump’s speech. He oversaw the implementation of Obamacare in Kentucky, a state that gave Trump a solid lead in the 2016 election.
Observers will be looking for any fireworks during the speech. In 2009, when Barack Obama announced his plan for healthcare reform in September 2009, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted “You lie!” With emotions at a feverish level, the prospect of outbursts from the Democrats’ side of the aisle at Tuesday’s speech is a near certainty.