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Trump to call for national unity in State of the Union address

US President Donald Trump waits for a meeting with China's Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office of the White House on Jan. 31, 2019. Copyright Brendan Smialowski AFP - Getty Images
Copyright Brendan Smialowski AFP - Getty Images
By Alex Seitz-Wald with NBC News Politics
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President Donald Trump will deliver his State of the Union Address Tuesday to a joint session of Congress that includes Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is set to preach American unity in this State of the State address on Tuesday, according to excerpts of his remarks released by the White House.

"The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican Agenda or a Democrat Agenda," Trump will tell Congress in a prime-time address. "It is the agenda of the American People."

"Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. 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."

With the longest government shutdown in American history now over and another potential one around the corner, Trump will push for bipartisanship.

He will say that his administration has moved more quickly than others of both parties to address problems that the president says have been long neglected, including criminal justice reform, energy production and boosting the economy.

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

"No issue better illustrates the divide between America's working class and America's political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards."

It will be Trump's first time speaking to Congress since Democrats won back the House and reminders of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's new power will be impossible to miss.

The sergeant at arms will announce to "Madam speaker" that the president has arrived in the House Chamber and she will then take a prominent spot on the dais just over his left shoulder.

Even the timing of the speech was determined by the new reality in Washington, after Pelosi successfully pressured to Trump to delay the address, originally scheduled for last month, until after the government shutdown ended.

The government is open now, but funding will run dry again unless Congress acts before February 15 and Trump's demand for a wall on the Southern border with Mexico remains a sticking point.

The White House has said the president will use his speech to once again call for the wall, while also urging Americans to come together and set aside their partisan differences.

Still, hours before delivering that message of unity, Trump slammed Senate Minority Leader Chuck on Twitter. And two days earlier, he sent an email to supporters with the subject line "State of the Union Address" that said Democrats had taken "obstruction and radicalism to a whole new UN-AMERICAN level."

Leaders in both parties traditionally select guests to bring to a president's address to a joint session of Congress and the choices this year underscore the enormous gulf between Republicans and Democrats.

The president chose the family members of a couple allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant and a teenager who has been bullied by his classmates because his last name is Trump.

Pelosi's guests, meanwhile, include two transgender Army members, selected to call attention to the ongoing legal fight over Trump's ban on transgender servicemembers, as well as Jose Andres, the activist-celebrity chef and vocal Trump critic.

Four of the nine members of the Supreme Court are expected to be in attendance, including its newest, Brett Kavanaugh, whose bitter 2018 confirmation battle is still fresh in many minds. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 85-year-old liberal still recovering from cancer surgery, is not expected to attend. She skipped Trump's previous two addresses to Congress as well.

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