President Donald Trump addressed a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. Every year, the president gives a State of the Union address, except for his first year. However, much of the speech laid out policy initiatives and goals much like a usual State of the Union. Here are six things you should know about the speech.
1. Civil rights
At the beginning of his speech, Trump mentioned Black History Month and condemned violence and threats against Jewish community centers and cemeteries. Early on in his term, Trump was criticized for failing to mention the Jewish people in his International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement.
“Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all of its very ugly forms.”
2. America first
The theme “America First” was present throughout the speech. From immigration to trade, Trump emphasized a need to focus on America and its citizens before and above anyone else. This was the reason Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He also called for limits and vetting on immigrants and refugees entering the country.
“Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.”
For years, Republicans have been campaigning on repealing the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare. Trump called on Congress to repeal and replace the hotly debated healthcare law during his speech. In laying out his healthcare policy, Trump wants Americans with pre-existing conditions to continue to be covered and to have a stable transition for those enrolled in health care exchanges.
“We should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.”
4. National security
During his speech, Trump pointed to Carryn Owens, the widow of U.S. Navy special operator William “Ryan” Owens. Her husband was killed during a raid on an al Qaida base in Yemen. This was the first operation of Trump’s presidency. Trump led Congress in applause for Carryn Owens that lasted several minutes.
“Ryan died as he lived, a warrior and a hero, battling against terrorism and securing our nation.”
Immigration has always been a key policy area for Trump. This speech was no different. Trump promised to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He also said gang members, drug dealers and criminals will be removed from the country. Trump also said that he ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create a new office called VOICE. It stands for Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. He pointed out several special guests that had been injured or lost a loved one due to violence and crimes committed by undocumented immigrants.
“By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions and billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone.”
6. School choice
Trump called for Congress to draft legislation that would fund a school choice program. The program would help “disadvantaged youth” attend private schools instead of being limited to just the local public school. Trump advocated for families being able to choose between public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home schooling.
“Education is the civil rights issue of our time.”