Trump calls on US parties to 'set aside' differences

Last Updated 31 January 2018, 04:39 IST

US President Donald Trump today urged Americans to move beyond the partisan divide between Democrats and Republicans in his first State of the Union address to Congress.

The State of the Union address is a traditional annual speech of the US president to a joint session of the Congress where he gives an account of the situation in the country.

"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," he said.

Trump delivered his traditional State of the Union address amidst boycott by nearly a dozen Democratic lawmakers including Indian-American Pramila Jayapal.

Other Indian-American lawmakers, Dr Ami Bera, Ro Khanna and Raja Krishnamoorthi attended the address. Kamala Harris, the Senator from California who is of Indian and African heritage, also attended the address.

At least a dozen Republican lawmakers had taken a side seat several hours in advance in the House Chambers so that they can shake hands with the President.

Among the audience was Sunayana Dumala, wife of Srinivas Kuchibhotla -- the Hyderabad engineer who was shot dead in Kansas last year. She was invited as a guest by Republican Congressman Kevin Yoder.

Vice President Mike Pence, members of Trump's Cabinet, top military leadership, and justices of the Supreme Court were also present.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue did not attend the event as he was at an undisclosed secure location in case of an untoward incident.

First Lady Melania Trump arrived amidst huge applause from the audience and the lawmakers.

Giving a clarion call of unity to his countrymen, Trump assured the nation that he will not repeat the past mistakes of being complacent and giving concessions, which only invites aggression and provocation.

He extended an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, "to protect our citizens, of every background, colour, and creed".

"As we rebuild America's strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad," Trump said in his address to the members of the US Congress.

The State of the Union address is traditionally held every year, except for the one of inauguration.

Last year, Trump said he had pledged that his administration would work with its allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth.

"One year later, I'm proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 per cent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.

"Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of the past administrations that got us into this dangerous position," Trump said.

He told the lawmakers and countrymen: "Together, we are building a safe, strong and proud America. We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day's work; we want every child to be safe in their home at night, and we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love".

Trump mentioned the enactment of the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.

"Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle Class and small businesses," he said.

Since the tax cuts, roughly three million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses many of them thousands of dollars per worker, he said.

"This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream," Trump said.

The 45th President of the United States talked about his vision for the future.

"Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family," he said.

Noting that Americans love their country, he said they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.

"For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their government. In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history," Trump said.

Asserting that his administration has ended the war on American energy and also the war on clean coal, he said the US is now an exporter of energy to the world.

"America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation's wealth," he said.

Trump said that America is a nation of builders, US built the Empire State building in just one year isn't it a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?

"I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve," Trump said as he unveiled a massive infrastructure plan.

Trump said struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.

(Published 31 January 2018, 02:44 IST)

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