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Trump doubles down on agenda in State of the Union address

Last Updated Jan 30, 2018 10:44 PM EST

In a lengthy, wide-ranging and upbeat State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Trump called for bipartisanship even as he pushed an agenda sure to alienate his political opponents.

It was a speech heavy on themes that Mr. Trump has embraced since his campaign for the presidency. He again pushed for stricter immigration laws and the building of a "great wall" along the U.S. border with Mexico. A section of the speech that called for an end to family-based immigration, sometimes called chain migration, elicited audible jeers from Democrats. He connected the immigration issue to crime, saying that "loopholes" in the immigration system had allowed gangs to proliferate.

But in a marked contrast from his rhetoric in the early days of his administration, Mr. Trump also tried to sound optimistic about the country's trajectory and enthusiastic about working with Democrats. At times, the speech even took on the feel of a pep rally for America, with Republicans briefly chanting "USA!" as the president spoke.

"[T]o every citizen watching at home tonight -- no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time," Mr. Trump said. "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."

At the top of the speech, Mr. Trump celebrated the booming economy, attributing the bullish stock market of recent months to his policies. He also took time to advertise the recent tax cuts championed by his administration, arguing that it would soon pay dividends for working Americans.

"And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history," Mr. Trump said. "Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses. A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 -- slashing their tax bill in half. This April will be the last time you ever file under the old broken system -- and millions of Americans will have more take-home pay starting next month."

As expected, the president also called for a massive infrastructure package, which he said he hopes will attract bipartisan support.  

"America is a nation of builders," Mr. Trump said. "We 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 minor permit approved for the building of a simple road?"

"I am asking both parties to come together to give us safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure that our economy needs and our people deserve."

The response from Democrats was muted for most of the address. However, Mr. Trump was able to elicit a number of bipartisan ovations for his guests in the audience. Several of the guests were moved to tears by the reception.

The tail end of the speech, which lasted over an hour, was devoted to military issues, with Mr. Trump calling for an end to spending caps for the military and the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He also promised the final defeat of ISIS.

"We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated," Mr. Trump said after touting recent victories in the war with the terror group.

Mr. Trump also discussed North Korea's nuclear provocations and it's treatment of both its own citizens and Otto Warmbier, an American student who was arrested in the country. Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly taking a political sign from a hotel, and died shortly after he was released from captivity. 

"Otto's Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight -- along with Otto's brother and sister, Austin and Greta," the president said. "You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto's memory with American resolve."

A CBS poll conducted in the immediate aftermath of the speech indicated that it was a hit with viewers. Three in four Americans who watched the speech said they approved of it, with just a quarter saying they did not. 

Follow our live State of the Union coverage below:


Trump's address is over

10:32 p.m. The president's first State of the Union address has concluded and he's making his way out of the chamber.

Trump recognizes North Korean defector 

10:30 p.m. "Finally, we are joined by one more witness to the ominous nature of this regime.  His name is Mr. Ji Seong-ho," the president said. "In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger.  He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain. His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves -- permanently stunting their own growth. Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China."

"Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and Southeast Asia to freedom.  Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death. Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most ‑- the truth," the president said. "Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come.  Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all. Seong-ho's story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom."

Trump warns that North Korea "could very soon threaten our homeland"

10:22 p.m. "North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland. We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening," he said. "Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position."

The president mentioned Otto Warmbier, a student from the University of Virginia, who was arrested in North Korea, sentenced to 15 years of hard labor and who was ultimately returned to the U.S. last June "horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return."

"Otto's Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight -- along with Otto's brother and sister, Austin and Greta," the president said. "You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto's memory with American resolve."

Trump calls on Congress to reexamine the Iranian nuclear deal

10:20 p.m. "I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal," he said. 

Trump calls on Congress to ensure U.S. aid "only go to America's friends"

10:18 p.m. Alluding to his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's official capital, he said, "I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to friends of America, not enemies of America."

Trump announces he has signed an executive order on Gitmo

10:14 p.m. "Today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay," he said. "I am also asking the Congress to ensure that, in the fight against ISIS and al-Qa'ida, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists -- wherever we chase them down."

Former President Obama, shortly after taking office in 2009, set a goal of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay. While his administration transferred many detainees out, it was unsuccessful in closing the facility, partially because Congress blocked that action. 

Trump calls on Congress to end sequestration for the military

10:09 p.m. "I am asking the Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military," he said. 

"As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.  Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet."

Trump says U.S. must get "much tougher" on drug dealers in order to stop opioid epidemic

10:05 p.m. The president said that the immigration plan "will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction."

"In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses: 174 deaths per day. Seven per hour. We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge," he said. "My Administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need. The struggle will be long and difficult -- but, as Americans always do, we will prevail."

Trump outlines administration's immigration plan, says officials have met "extensively" with both parties

9:59 p.m. "Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package. In recent months, my Administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform. Based on these discussions, we presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise -- one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs."

The four pillars of the plan:

  • Offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents illegally as children
  • Calls for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border
  • Ends the visa lottery -- "a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people," Mr. Trump said. "It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system -- one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country."
  • The last pillar, Mr. Trump said, "protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration...Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children."

The president names families affected by MS-13 gang violence

9:52 p.m. "Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers:  Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens. Their two teenage daughters -- Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens -- were close friends on Long Island. But in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa's 16th Birthday, neither of them came home. These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown. Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and Nisa's murders," Mr. Trump said.

A shot of the families showed the parents in the gallery in tears. "Evelyn, Elizabeth, Freddy, and Robert:  Tonight, everyone in this chamber is praying for you.  Everyone in America is grieving for you," he added.

Trump highlights paid family leave

9:49 p.m. The president very briefly said: "And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave." He offered no details, however, on what he would specifically support. The president very briefly said: "And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave." 

He offered no details, however, on what he would specifically support. 

Trump calls on Congress to produce a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan

9:47 p.m. The president said that the Empire State Building was built in a year, but now he said it takes a decade to get a permit to build a new road.

"Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need," he said. "Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment -- to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit. Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process -- getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one."

Trump says U.S. will work to "fix bad trade deals"

9:45 p.m. "From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal," he said. "We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones. And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules."

Trump vows to reduce the price of prescription drugs

9:41 p.m. "One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs," he said. "In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of my top priorities for the year. Prices will come down -- watch."

Trump says he calls on Congress to empower Cabinet to remove federal workers who undermine public trust

9:37 p.m. He said, "I call on the Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers -- and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people."

Trump revisits national anthem issue

9:35 p.m. The president spoke about a 12-year-old Preston Sharp, a guest sitting next to Melania Trump in the House gallery who noticed that veterans' graves were not marked by American flags on Veterans Day and started a movement to place flags at their graves.

"Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans," he said. "Preston's reverence for those who have served our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem."

"We know that faith and family" are at the center of American life, Trump says

9:31 p.m. The president said, "In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life.  Our motto is "in God we trust. And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support."

Trump highlights the GOP tax overhaul that he signed into law in December

9:25 p.m. "And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses," he said. "A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 -- slashing their tax bill in half. This April will be the last time you ever file under the old broken system -- and millions of Americans will have more take-home pay starting next month."

The president said that Republicans repealed Obamacare's individual mandate as part of the tax law, which prompted rousing applause from GOP lawmakers. 

The president touts a strong economy

9:22 p.m. Mr. Trump claimed that 2.4 million new job have been created since the 2016 election.

"After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages. Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low.  African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history," he said.

A cutaway shot featuring members of the Congressional Black Caucus showed them not applauding in the chamber. 

Trump calls Steve Scalise "one of the toughest people ever to serve" in House

9:19 p.m. "With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House -- a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three and a half months later: the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise," Mr. Trump said. "In the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people.  But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy.  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."

Trump touts "incredible progress" in first year

9:15 p.m. "Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have imagined.  We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship. We have endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America's soul, and the steel in America's spine."

The president praised the "Cajun Navy" that helped save lives in the wake of Hurricane Harvey last year. He noted strangers who helped each other after the mass shooting in Las Vegas. 

The president enters the House chamber

9:08 p.m. President Trump is entering the House chamber and shaking hands with lawmakers standing in the aisle. A number of GOP lawmakers are shaking Mr. Trump's hand and greeting him as he makes his way to the front of the chamber. 

Trump's Cabinet is entering the House chamber

9:04 p.m. The president's Cabinet is entering the House of Representatives along with Supreme Court justices. Agriculture Secretary Perdue is absent -- he is the designated survivor. 

Trump has left the White House

8:50 p.m. The president is en route to the Capitol where he'll deliver his first official State of the Union address shortly. 

First lady Melania Trump travels to Capitol separately from Trump 

8:11 p.m. The first lady's office says: "Mrs. Trump is honoring her guests for the true heroes they are. In addition to holding a White House reception and photo opportunity for them, along with their friends and family, she accompanied them to the Capitol. The First Lady and Mrs. Pence are now hosting a more intimate meet-and-greet to engage with them on a personal level before the speech."

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to be designated survivor

6:45 p.m. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will not attend the State of the Union address. Instead, he will be at an alternate location as the night's designated survivor, in the event that something should go wrong at the Capitol, CBS News has confirmed. 

Excerpts of Trump's speech released:

6:37 p.m. The White House released the following from Trump's speech, as prepared for delivery:

  • 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.
  • Just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.
  • Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the Middle Class and small businesses.
  • Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses – many of them thousands of dollars per worker. 
  • This is our New American Moment.  There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.
  • 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.
  • Americans love their country. And 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.
  • We have ENDED the war on American Energy – and we have ENDED the War on CLEAN COAL.  We are 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.
  • America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just one year – isn't it a disgrace that it can now take ten 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.
  • Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American Workers and American Families.
  • So tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed.
  • As we rebuild America's strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.
  • Last year I pledged that we would work with our 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 percent 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.

Hours out from speech, Trump has yet to tweet Tuesday

6:07 p.m. As he prepares for his first State of the Union address, Mr. Trump has been silent on Twitter. As of early Tuesday evening, the president had yet to tweet anything. The day before, the only tweet that emerged from his account was a tweet congratulating the newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar.

Given his comments on unity, the president could be pulling away from Twitter momentarily to allow space for his message to ring without further distraction. 

But Dan Scavino, the president's social media director, did tweet this of the president as he was about to run through the speech. 

Trump speaks at news anchor lunch event

4:05 p.m. Asked what he has learned in his first year as president, Mr. Trump said, "I've really learned a lot. You know, governing -- when you're a businessperson, you don't have to worry about your heart, the heart. You really do what's best for you -- you know, for almost purely monetary reasons. You know, you make your money. You competing against people.  In many cases, you don't like them, you want to beat, and all that stuff. And I build a great company -- far better than anybody at this table says. I mean, I have some of the greatest assets in the world. I've built a great company," he said. 

"In doing what I'm doing now, a lot of it is heart, a lot of it is compassion, a lot of it is far beyond money -- such as immigration, such as the things we're talking about. From a purely economic standpoint -- if I was doing this purely from an economic standpoint, I would sit down and tell you in one second what I'd be doing, okay? It's so simple."

2:58 p.m. Mr. Trump hosted a lunch with TV news anchors Tuesday afternoon ahead of his address and emphasized that he wants to unite the country. 

"There's been tremendous divisiveness  -- not in the last year. There's been tremendous divisiveness for many years," he said. "I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity...Without a major event where people pull together, that's hard to do. But I'd like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing. I would love to do it."

White House outlines issues Trump will highlight during speech

1:44 p.m. In a message shared by The White House this afternoon, it listed several issues the president will talk about in his speech: tax cuts and the economy, infrastructure, immigration, trade and national security. It said, for example, that Mr. Trump will outline a $1 trillion infrastructure plan and explain his "framework on immigration reform." 

— CBS News' Kathryn Watson contributed to this report 

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.