Despite a turbulent start to the year marked by the longest government shutdown in history, President Donald Trump will tout the nation’s strength when he delivers his State of the Union address Tuesday and look to strike a unifying tone. (Feb. 4)
WASHINGTON – A week late and $5.7 billion short.
When it comes to the State of the Union address, that was the net effect of the 35-day partial government shutdown. President Donald Trump was forced to postpone his annual speech, originally scheduled for Jan. 29, until Tuesday because of the shutdown, after he and Democratic lawmakers were at an impasse over his demand for $5.7 billion to build a wall on the southern border.
Trump had planned to go ahead with the speech despite a letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging him to reschedule over “security concerns.” But after she flatly told him that he’d have to wait, he backed down. The shutdown finally ended on Jan. 25, without the wall money Trump wanted, and the speech was rescheduled.
But the deal only funded the government through Feb. 15. So, Trump will deliver his delayed address as the clock is ticking for Congress to come up with a deal to avert another shutdown.
Here is a rundown of how to watch, and what to watch for, as Trump delivers the State of the Union under unprecedented circumstances.
Timing: This is not the first time the State of the Union wasn’t ‘on schedule’
Confront or ignore: What history says President Trump should do in the State of the Union address
Time and channels
Trump will deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives at 9 p.m. EST. on Tuesday.
There will be no shortage of places to watch. All the major networks and all the cable news channels will broadcast the speech, as will public broadcasting networks and C-SPAN.
The speech will also be broadcast on most public radio and news radio stations. And it will be streamed live on the White House website and on Facebook.
Has a SOTU ever been postponed before?
The State of the Union was delayed in 1986 when the Challenger space shuttle exploded on the day President Ronald Reagan was scheduled to deliver his address.
And for most of American history, the State of the Union was not a speech at all, but a written address submitted annually to Congress.
But this appears to be the first time in history that a president was forced to delay the address over a standoff with Congress.
More: This is not the first time the State of the Union wasn’t ‘on schedule’ or ‘on location’
What Trump is expected to say
With the threat of another government shutdown looming, Trump is certain to address his concerns about border security and immigration, and to explain how a wall is the right fix for those problems. The president has addressed the nation twice on those issues in recent weeks and he is likely to repeat those speeches’ focus on crime prevention and drug interdiction.
According to an excerpt of the speech released by the White House, Trump plans to call for unity and bipartisan cooperation.
And since every president likes to focus on the positive in their addresses, Trump is almost certain to tout the continued success of the economy and recent positive jobs numbers. He also likely highlight the criminal justice reform bill that the White House helped pass with bipartisan support.
More: Donald Trump to call for ‘unity’ in State of the Union address to Democratic House
What to watch for
Trump had hinted that he might use the occasion to declare a national emergency at the southern border in order to secure the funds for his wall and get around congressional Democrats’ opposition. He is not expected to do more than repeat his threat of such a proclamation, but the president has a demonstrated willingness to surprise.
Whatever Trump says, the unusually bitter and deep partisan divides within Congress could mean some pretty hostile responses to Trump’s remarks (though perhaps not on the level of Republican Rep. Joe Wilson’s infamous “You lie!” exclamation amid an address to a joint session of Congress by then-President Barack Obama). At the very least, expect some withering looks from Pelosi, who will be sitting just behind the president, next to Vice President Mike Pence.
More: Trump says there’s a ‘good chance’ he’ll declare an emergency for border wall
Who is delivering the Democratic response?
Stacey Abrams, who lost a tough gubernatorial battle in Georgia’s 2018 midterm election, will deliver the Democratic response to Trump’s address.
Who is Stacey Abrams?: Meet the Georgia Democrat who will respond to Trump’s State of the Union
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