US President Donald Trump kicked off his annual State of the Union address before Congress with a call for bipartisanship.
He used the speech late on Tuesday to restate his case for a wall along the border with Mexico and outlined his major achievements after two years in office.
He called for collaboration on jobs, trade, infrastructure, healthcare, immigration, and foreign policy. “Victory is not winning for our party. Victory is winning for our country,” Trump said.
“Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us now, gathered in this great chamber, hoping that we will govern not as two parties but as one nation.
“The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American People,” he said.
Many of the Democratic lawmakers dressed in white stood to applaud, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance, and retribution – and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” Trump said.
Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence both stood to clap after that line.
“Together, we can break decades of political stalemate,” he added. But when he said “the state of our union is strong”, Pelosi, sitting right behind Trump, did not clap. Some in the House stood and chanted “USA.”
Trump, who has warred with Democrats for months over his plan to build the wall along the nation’s southwestern border, used the nationally televised speech to press lawmakers to give him money for the barrier.
He signaled that he will not back off his hard-line immigration policies that have polarized the country.
“No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working class and America’s political class than illegal immigration,” he added,
Trump slammed “ridiculous partisan investigations” and called for an end to “war and investigation”.
His administration has been hampered with several probes, including multiple ones into the 2016 election, and now that Democrats hold the majority in the House things might get difficult.
Dressed in all white, a group of Democratic women stood to cheer as he was discussing women in the workforce — even Trump was surprised.
“No one has benefited more from a thriving economy than women who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year,” he said.
“You weren’t supposed to do that,” Trump joked. “Thank you very much. Thank you very much. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before.”
He then urged the women to keep standing. “Don’t sit yet. You’re going to like this. And exactly one century after Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in Congress than at any time,” he said.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stood up after that line and gestured for others in the room to do the same.
The President acknowledged Buzz Aldrin, who was in attendance on Tuesday night, thanking the Apollo 11 astronaut before saying in 2019, “American astronauts will go back to space on American rockets”.