In a highly polarized political climate—with the possibility of another government shutdown looming over Washington—President Donald Trump called for unity during his first State of the Union Address.
“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” boomed Trump on Tuesday night.
Touting GOP tax reform, the creation of 2.4 million jobs and a stock market smashing “one record after the other,” the president echoed his campaign promise to make the American Dream “better than ever before.”
“If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything,” said the president.
But as Republican lawmakers gave the president one standing ovation after another, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sat in silence.
Trump has sparred with both Democratic leaders during the past year over whether or not to grant amnesty to the roughly 800,000 undocumented young immigrants currently living in the United States. Failure to reach a deal over the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program culminated in a weekend government shutdown on January 20.
Though the government reopened the following Monday, a deal has still not been reached, and an operating budget for 2018 must be submitted by February 8 to avoid another shutdown.
Promising a “down-the-middle compromise” on immigration, Trump laid out the White House’s four pillar plan that includes: 1) an easier path toward citizenship; 2) a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; 3) the end to chain migration; and 4) the end to the visa lottery system.
The immigration proposal elicited “boos” from Democrats in the audience.
After the State of the Union, Pelosi accused the president over Twitter of presenting “a self-congratulatory speech” that “promised unity, but sowed division.”
Even in unity, there is disagreement on how to get there.