President Donald Trump will finally deliver his second speech on the State of the Union tomorrow, after the delay caused by the last partial closure of the Administration, the longest in history and that has left an even more tense Congress.
The main question about Trump’s speech is whether he will use that traditional platform to declare a national emergency on the “border crisis” that, according to him, the country lives on the southern border with Mexico. Through this strategy, the president could reallocate military funds or natural disasters to the construction of the border wall, a threat that he has repeated frequently in recent weeks.
If so, the decision would be taken to court by the Democratic opposition and civil organizations, and probably rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has already blocked several Trump initiatives on immigration matters.
Another enigma about the speech, which will last about an hour, is whether or not Trump will announce the date of his second meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.
A senior official told reporters at a telephone press conference on Thursday that the speech will revolve around the slogan “Choosing Greatness,” a phrase that evokes the now famous “Make America Great Again”.
According to the same source, Trump will highlight five points above all: ending illegal immigration; trade agreements (including China and the T-MEC); increase spending on infrastructure; lower the cost of access to healthcare; and military and diplomatic efforts abroad. The White House, which did not offer more details about the content, did point out that the situation in Venezuela “will be mentioned” in that speech, without further specifications.
“It will be a unifying and visionary discourse that looks to the future of our nation,” the official reiterated several times, preferring to remain anonymous. Although the objective of this tradition is to draw common bridges between both parties and send a message of unity to citizens and other countries, this time it is seen as a complicated task.
The battle of recent dates between Trump and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Democrat Nancy Pelosi, on the celebration of the State of the Union address is the tip of the iceberg of the tension that exists between the Democratic leader and the tenant of the White House. Initially Pelosi invited Trump to offer his presidential speech in Congress on January 29, but then retracted and left the sine die call, at the expense of the administrative partial closure to end.
Once Trump chose to reopen the administration temporarily without funds for the wall, the main reason for the administrative paralysis, Pelosi and the president agreed that the speech in the plenary session of the lower house would be held on February 5. The erosion of the partial administrative closure, which directly harmed some 800,000 federal workers who did not receive their salary, also affected Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
A small part of the citizens, according to several surveys at national level, saw with good eyes that Trump decided to keep the Administration closed if the Congress did not approve more resources for the construction of the wall. In the face of popular pressure, Trump agreed to reopen part of the government until February 15, the date on which the new approved funds expire.
During these weeks, a bipartisan committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate meet to develop a proposal for funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an initiative that Trump has called a “waste of time.” This new gesture of Trump towards the legislators has not sat well in the Congress, which receives its president with an atmosphere even more tense than usual.