WASHINGTON — Addressing a deeply divided nation, President Donald Trump called upon lawmakers Tuesday night to set aside differences and "summon the unity" needed to make good on promises to fix the nation's infrastructure and immigration systems, using his State of the Union address to infuse his presidency with a sense of optimism, for at least one high-profile night.
"The state of our union is strong because our people are strong," Trump declared.
Despite his calls for bipartisanship, Trump spoke with tensions running high on Capitol Hill. An impasse over immigration prompted a three-day government shutdown earlier this month, and lawmakers appear no closer to resolving the status of some 700,000 young people living in the U.S. illegally ahead of a new Feb. 8 deadline for funding operations. The parties have also clashed this week over the plans of Republicans on the House intelligence committee to release a classified memo on the Russia investigation involving Trump's presidential campaign — a decision the White House backs but the Justice Department is fighting.
At times, Trump's address appeared to be aimed more at validating his first year in office than setting the course for his second. He devoted significant time to touting the tax overhaul he signed at the end of last year, promising the plan will "provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses." He spoke about potential agenda items for 2018 in broad terms, including a call for $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure spending and partnerships with states and the private sector.
First lady Melania Trump, who has largely stayed out of the spotlight following the latest allegations of Trump infidelity, arrived at the capitol ahead of her husband to attend a reception with guests of the White House. Those sitting alongside the first lady included an Ohio welder who the White House says will benefit from the new tax law and the parents of two Long Island teenagers who were believed to have been killed by MS-13 gang members.