President Trump’s message to Congress after his first year in office would be a “forward-looking speech that is positive in tone and content,” according to one of his key advisers. It lived up to that brief, as the commander-in-chief rarely departed from script in a rallying cry for “a safe, strong, and proud America.”
The 2018 address came as critical policy negotiations are under way, including over immigration and trade, and ahead of what is expected to be a charged midterm elections season. The FT Washington team, including deputy bureau chief Sam Fleming, political correspondent Courtney Weaver and trade editor Shawn Donnan, analyse the unfolding speech.
Select the highlights to read the annotations
Mr Speaker, Mr Vice President, members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans. Less than one year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the American people and to address their concerns, their hopes and their dreams. That night, our new administration had already taken very swift action. A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land. Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission, to make America great again for all Americans.
Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. We have faced challenges we expected and others we could have never 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.US Political CorrespondentTrump begins by focusing one of the high points of his administration thus far: the White House's response to Hurricane Harvey last summer, which involved Mr Trump and the First Lady making multiple trips down to Texas
Each test forged new American heroes to remind us who we are, and show us what we can be. We saw the volunteers of the Cajun navy racing to the rescue with their fishing boats to save people in the aftermath of a totally devastating hurricane. We saw strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip. We heard tales of Americans, like coast guard petty officer Ashlee Leppert, who is here tonight in the gallery, with Melania.
Ashlee was aboard one of the first helicopters in the scene used for Hurricane Harvey. 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee braved downed power lines and deep water to save 40 lives. Ashlee, we all thank you. Thank you very much.
We heard about Americans like firefighter David Dahlberg. He is here with us also. David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped in a California summer camp, threatened by those devastating wildfires. To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, everywhere, we are with you, we love you, and we always will pull through together, always.US Political CorrespondentMeanwhile, Mr Trump is still being criticised for his administration’s lacklustre response to the ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico, where 450,000 of the island’s 1.5m electricity customers are still without power.
Thank you to David and the brave people of California. Thank you very much, David. Great job. Some trials over the past year touched this chamber very personally. 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.
I think they like you, Steve.US Political CorrespondentAn ad-lib from Trump We are incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of the capitol police officers, the Alexandria police, and the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who saved his life and the lives of many others read some in this room — of many others, some in this room.
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 on 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. This is really the key. These are the people we are elected to serve.
Over the last year, the world has seen what we always know. That no people on Earth are so fearless or daring or determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If there is an opportunity, we seize it. Let's begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our union is strong, because our people are strong.US Economics EditorMr Trump’s address comes amid politically fractious times, with a bitter debate over immigration, the impact of the tax cuts, and the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and poor opinion poll ratings of the President himself. His pitch for bipartisanship and national unity will be met with scepticism by many Democrats who are hoping his unpopularity will allow them to make gains in the November midterms.
And together we are building a safe, strong and proud America. Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturingWorld Trade EditorThis is true. But the US created a similar number of manufacturing jobs during at least two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. There are also still a million less Americans employed in manufacturing than there were before the 2008 crisis alone. Tremendous.
After years and years of wages stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.US Economics EditorThe Federal Reserve has recently been noting signs of improving wage growth, but the improvement from the worst post-crisis readings began before Mr Trump’s presidency began.
Unemployment claims have hit a 45 year low.
And something I am very proud of, African American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded.US Political CorrespondentDemocrats are quick to point out that this frequent talking point by Trump is not 100 per cent factual. In fact, the unemployment rate for African Americans had been falling even before Mr Trump took office, falling to a 10-year low in January 2017.
And Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.
Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining 8 trillion dollars and more in a value in just this short period of time.US Economics EditorMr Trump has eagerly laid claim to rising business confidence and stock market readings, and it is true that animal spirits have appeared enlivened since the election. However the risk in linking his fortunes so closely to the stock market is obvious given the ever-present risk that it suffers a nasty correction.
The great news for Americans, 401k, retirement, pension and college savings accounts have gone through the roof. 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.US Economics EditorThere was deep scepticism last year that the GOP would manage to get its tax package though in 2017, but the party coalesced around a package by year end. Mr Trump has repeatedly claimed the tax cuts were the largest in history, but they were not. Analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in October, before the final package was passed, suggested that if the maximum $1.5tn cut envisaged under Senate rules were pushed through, it would be the 12th largest as a percent of GDP since 1918 and the 4th largest in real dollars. Mr Trump's claim that the tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class need to be balanced by the fact that the biggest beneficiaries are higher income Americans.
Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses, to lower tax rates for hard-working Americans.US Political CorrespondentThis line generates the biggest applause so far of the night.
We nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. We also doubled the child tax credit. A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2000, slashing their tax bill in half. In April, this will be the last time you will ever file under the old and very broken system.US Political CorrespondentPaid family leave is one of the main policy areas of Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka.
And millions of Americans will have more take-home pay, starting next month. A lot more.
We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell on Americans making less than $50,000 a year, forcing them to pay tremendous penalties, simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans. We repealed the core of the disastrous Obamacare, the individual mandate is now gone. Thank you.US Political CorrespondentMemorably, Republicans failed to overturn all of Obamacare last year - a goal Mr Trump set as his first legislative priority. Nevertheless, this line gets lots of cheers from the audience, particularly the likes of Mr Trump’s former rival Ted Cruz and his ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who are both shown with big smiles on their face.
We slashed the business tax rate from 35%, all the way down to 21%. So American companies can compete against anyone, anywhere else in the world.
These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4000, a lot of money.
Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20% of their business income. Here tonight are Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of Staub manufacturing, a small, beautiful business in Ohio. They have just finished their best year in their 20 year history.
Because of tax reform, they are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding into the building next door.
One of Staub's employees, Corey Adams, is also with us tonight. Corey is an all-American worker. He supported himself through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder. Like many hard-working Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax cut into his new home, and his two daughters' education. Corey, please stand. And he is a great welder. I was told by the man that owns that company that does that so well. Congratulations, Corey.
Since we passed tax cuts, over 3 million workers have gotten tax cut bonuses. Many of them, thousands and thousands of dollars. It is getting more every month, every week. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire an additional 20,000 workers.
Just a little while ago, Exxon Mobil announced a $50 billion investment in the United States, just a little while ago.
This, in fact, is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.
So, to every citizen watching at home tonight, no matter where you have been or where you have come from, this is your time. If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, be anything. And together, we can achieve absolutely anything.US Economics EditorMr Trump was criticised for the dark tone he adopted during his inauguration speech this time last year; here he is adopting the loftier, aspirational tone that Americans have been used to hearing from their presidents.
Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of a nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family, can do anything. We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag.US Political CorrespondentThis is a pointed reference to the NFL players, whom Mr Trump has criticised for taking a knee during the national anthem - a protest against police brutality and Mr Trump’s presidency. Read more about that controversy here.
Together, we are rediscovering the American way. In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. The motto is, in God we trust.US Political CorrespondentA direct appeal to the base by Trump here who has taken credit for bringing ‘Christmas’ back to America and the the White House. (In fact, the Obamas also promoted the holiday.)
And we celebrate our police, our military, and veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.
Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12 year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed veterans' graves were not decorated with flags on Veterans Day. He decided to change that and has started a movement which has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes. Preston, a job well done. Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. I met preston a little while ago and he is something very special, that I can tell you. Great future. Thank you, Preston. Thank you, very much. Preston's reverence for those who have served our nation remind 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.
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. Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court justice, and more circuit court judges, than any new administration in the history of our country.
We are totally defending our second amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.
And we are serving our brave of veterans, including giving our veterans choice in their health care decisions. Last year, Congress also passed, and I signed, the landmark the VA accountability act.US Political CorrespondentThis bill was another legislative highlight for Trump last year. One of the few major bills that sailed through Congress with broad bipartisan support - a rarity in the current political climate.
Since its passage, and my administration has already moved more than 1500 VA employees who fail to give our veterans the care they deserve. And we are hiring people who love our vets as much as we do.
And I will not stop until our veterans are properly taken care of. Which has been my promise to them from the very beginning of this great journey. All Americans deserve accountability and respect. And that is what we are giving to our wonderful heroes, our veterans. Thank you.
So tonight I call on 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.
In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in the history of our country.
We have ended the war on American energy. And we have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal.
We are now very proudly and exporter of energy to the world.
In Detroit, I halted government mandates that crippled America's great workers, so we can get motor city revving its engines again. And that is what is happening. Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States,World Trade EditorThis is one of Trump’s main economic promises – to bring back manufacturing jobs. But it’s still early days and the growth in those jobs in the past year has really only been in line with recent trends. Motorcycle maker Harley Davidson also announced this week that it was closing a plant in Kansas City and opening one in Thailand something we have not seen in decades. Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan. Toyota and Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama, a big one. And we have not seen this in a long time. It is all coming back.
Very soon, auto plants and other plants will be opening up all over our country. This is all news Americans are totally unaccustomed to hearing.US Economics EditorManufacturing employment reached a trough after the recession in 2010 and has been slowly rising since then. At 12.5m, manufacturing employment remains far below the peak in the late 1970s of just under 20m. Given higher productivity and automation in the sector, the manufacturing workforce is highly unlikely ever to regain its post-war strength For many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now, they are roaring back, they are coming back, they want to be where the action is. They want to be in the United States of America. That is where they want to go.
Exciting progress is happening every single day. To speed access to breakthroughs, cures, and affordable generic drugs, last year, the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our country's history.
We also believe that patients with terminal conditions, terminal illnesses, should have access to experimental treatment immediately that could essentially save their lives. People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure. I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for Congress to give these wonderful, incredible Americans the right to try.
One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. And it is very, very unfair. That is why I directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of my top priorities for the year.US Political CorrespondentLowering the price of prescription drugs in the US was a big rallying cry on the campaign trail - both by Trump and his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Trump has been relatively quiet on the issue during his first year in office. However, a clear signal here that this may be about to change.
And prices will come down substantially. Watch. America has also finally turned a page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs — and our wealth.World Trade EditorDonald Trump has railed for years against what he sees as unfair trade deals. But it’s a bit early to say his administration has “finally turned the page”. He pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan and 10 other economies. But he has yet to negotiate a new trade agreements. His efforts to renegotiate Nafta and a Korean trade deal are still in the early stages. Our nation has lost its wealth, but we are getting it back so fast. The era of economic surrender is over. From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair. And very importantly, reciprocal.World Trade EditorFair and reciprocal has become Trump’s own version of free trade. Reciprocity is expected to be a big theme as he turns his trade attention toward China in the weeks to come
We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.World Trade EditorThis is one promise that Trump has failed to live up to so far. Many countries are wary of negotiating with an administration that has a zero-sum view of trade. One exception: the UK, which is eager to strike a deal post-Brexit And they will be good ones. But they will be fair. And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property,World Trade EditorThe reference to intellectual property foreshadows what is expected to be one of Trump’s main trade attacks on China in the months ahead. He last year ordered an IP investigation that is expected to lead to retaliatory tariffs. Some fear that if it’s mishandled it could also lead to a trade war with China through strong enforcement of our trade rules.World Trade EditorThat’s it for trade and that’s striking. Just 78 words.
As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
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 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.
Tonight, I am calling on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment that our country so desperately needs.US Economics EditorMr Trump has talked of a $1tn infrastructure plan since the campaign, but here he talks of a larger, $1.5tn package. While it is a bold-sounding number, lawmakers are awaiting the details behind the White House’s proposals - and in particular where the administration thinks the money will come from. Without a politically difficult increase in the gasoline tax that supports federal highway spending it will be difficult to make big strides. Officials have recently been reported to be envisaging cuts to other transportation programmes including Amtrak to help pay for the plan.
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. And we can do it.
Any bill must also streamline the permitting process, getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps, even one. Together, we can reclaim our great building heritage.
We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways all across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.World Trade EditorThere’s an interesting omission here - American steel. During the 2016 campaign and early in his first year in office Trump promised to use US steel in any infrastructure projects. But that promise has been quietly dropped
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 all love so much. We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.
As tax cuts create new jobs, let's invest in workforce development, and let's invest in job training, which we need so badly.
Let's open great vocational schools, so our future workers can learn a craft and realise their full potential.
And let's support working families by supporting paid family leave.US Political CorrespondentAnother reference here to Ivanka Trump’s pet issue - a policy area that used to be dominated almost entirely by the Democrats.
As America regains its strength, opportunity must be extended to all citizens. That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons, to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance at life.
Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families. For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against of the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.
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 December 2016, on the eve of Nisa's 16th birthday, such a happy time it should have been, neither of them came home. These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown. Six members of the savage MS-13 gang have been charged with Kayla and Nisa's murders.
Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes and our laws to enter the country as illegal, unaccompanied, alien minors. And wound up in Kayla and Nisa's high school. Evelyn, Freddy, Elizabeth, and Robert. Everyone stands, we are grieving with you. Thank you very much. I want you to know that 320 million hearts are right now breaking for you.US Political CorrespondentThis is one of the most moving moments of the evening so far, with both families visibly in tears, and evokes a similarly charged moment in Mr Trump’s first joint address to Congress last year when he addressed the widow or a recently killed Navy SEAL.
We cannot imagine the depths of that kind of sorrow. We can make sure other families do not have to endure this kind of pain. Tonight I am calling on Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13 and other criminal gangs to break into our country. We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws and support our I.C.E. and border patrol agents. These are great people, these are great, great people who work so hard in the midst of such danger, so that this can never happen again.
The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country, anywhere in the world, to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged, all over the world. But as president of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, my constant concern, is for America's children, America's struggling workers, and America's forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise. 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, religion and creed.
My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American dream. Because Americans are dreamers, too.
Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country, homeland security investigation special agent, Celestino Martinez. He goes by DJ and CJ, he says, call me either one.US Political CorrespondentThis line is apropos of… something? According to the written text of Mr Trump’s speech, Martinez is just ‘CJ’. We will go by CJ. Years in the air force before becoming an I.C.E. Agent, and facing gang violence in dangerous criminals, getting them off our streets. Tough job. At one point, MS-13 leaders ordered CJ's murder, and they wanted it to happen quickly. But he did not cave to threats or to fear. Last may, he commanded an operation to track down again members in Long Island. His team has arrested nearly 400, including nearly 220 MS-13 gang members.
And I have to tell you, what the border patrol and I.C.E. have done, we have sent thousands and thousands and thousands of MS-13 horrible people out of this country, or into our prisons. So I just want to congratulate you, CJ. You are a brave guy. Thank you very much. And I asked CJ, what is the secret? He just said, we are tougher than they are. And I like that answer. Now, let's get Congress to send you and all of the people in this great chamber — we have to do it, we have no choice. This is one of the few times Mr Trump ad-libbed at length. CJ, we are going to send you reinforcements, and we are going to send them to you quickly. It is what you need.
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 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 and must have.
Here are the four pillars of our plan.
The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age. That covers almost three times more people than the previous administration covered. Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become a full citizens of the United States over a 12 year period.
The second pillar fully secures the border. That means building a great wall on the southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country. And it finally ends the horrible and dangerous practice of catch and release.
The third pillar ends the visa lottery, a program that randomly plans out green cards without regard for skill, merit, for the safety of American people. Time to begin moving toward 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.US Political CorrespondentThis is one of the biggest questions going forward in the immigration debate. Will America, a nation of immigrants, move to a more merit-based immigration system, along the lines of Australia’s, or Canada’s. Or will the existing system, which advocates say prioritises families and underdogs, prevail?
The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current, broken system. A single immigrant can bring in unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children.US Political CorrespondentDemocrats say Trump has overstated the nature of chain migration in the US, suggesting that most immigrants are bringing over distant relatives, when data shows most green card holders typically bring over their spouses and children. The most typical kind of ‘chain migration’, they say, is green card holders bringing over their siblings or their adult children.
This vital reform is necessary not just for our economy, but for our security and the future of America. In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and change migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can just no longer afford. It is time for reform of these outdated immigration rules can finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.
These four pillars represent a down the middle compromise and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system. For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen. Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to sign a bill that puts America first. So let's come together, that politics aside, and finally get the job done.US Political CorrespondentWill Democrats go for this ‘compromise’? Unlikely. As Democratic Senator Kamala Harris tweeted not long after this comment by Trump: “Dreamers should not be used as a bargaining chip or held hostage in exchange for anti-immigrants.”
These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction. Never before has it been like it is now. It is terrible. We have to do something about it. 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. My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need. For those who have been so terribly hurt, the struggle will be long and it will be difficult. As Americans always do, in the end we will succeed. We will prevail.US Economics EditorMr Trump is right to underscore the devastation being wrought by the opioid scourge. In late October he said the opioid epidemic was the worst drug crisis in American history, as he made a declaration intended to spur federal government action to deal with the problem. His move fell short of declaring the situation a national emergency and unlocking federal disaster funds, however. Republicans face calls for additional government spending to be allocated to the drugs epidemic.
As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best in America. We see a vivid expression of this in the story of the family of New Mexico. Ryan is 27 years old. An officer with the Albuquerque police department. He is here tonight with his wife, Rebecca.
Thank you, Ryan. Last year Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin.
When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she didn't know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby. In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him. You will do it, because you can. He heard those words. He took out a picture of his wife and therefore kids. Then he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. They named their new daughter Hope. Ryan and Rebecca, you embody the goodness of our nation. Thank you.
Thank you, Ryan and Rebecca. As we rebuild America's strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad. Around the world we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interest, our economy, and our values.US Political CorrespondentThis is the only time that Trump mentions Russia during the duration of his speech - not necessarily a surprise given the ongoing Mueller special counsel immigration. By contrast, Joe Kennedy, who delivers the Democrats’ rebuttal to Mr Trump, planned to name-drop in the opening minutes In confronting these horrible dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict. Unmatched power is the surest means to our true and great defense.
For this reason, I am asking Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military.US Economics EditorWhile the administration is alongside defense hawks on Capitol Hill seeking a big boost to the defense budget and the lifting of spending caps, Democrats will seek equivalent increases in non-defense ceilings on spending, and they also want a deal on DACA. The debate on spending in coming weeks is set to be an intense one. 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 so powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation or anyone else.
Perhaps some day 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, sadly. Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth.
One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100% of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria and in other locations as well.
But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated. Army staff sergeant Justin Peck is here tonight. Justin and his comrade, chief petty officer Kenton Stacy were clearing a building that ISIS had rigged with explosives so that civilians could return to that city hopefully safely. Kenton Stacey was severely wounded by an explosion. Immediately, Justin bounded into the booby-trapped and dangerous and unsafe building and found Kenton in very bad shape. He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an airway. He performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground transport and maintained artificial respiration through 2.5 hours and through emergency surgery. Kenton Stacey would have died if it were not for Justin's love for his fellow warrior. Tonight, Kenton is recovering in Texas. Justin is wearing his new bronze star with a ‘V’ for valor.
Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we have no choice but to annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear. Terrorists are not merely criminals, they are unlawful enemy combatants.
And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are. In the past, we have loosely released hundreds and hundreds of dangerous terrorist's only to meet them again on the battlefield. Including the ISIS leader who we captured and who we had and who we released. Today I am keeping another promise. I just signed, prior to walking in, and order directing Secretary Mattis, who is doing a great job — thank you — to re-examine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay.US Political CorrespondentBarack Obama famously vowed to close Guantanamo Bay during his 2008 campaign. When Obama left office in January 2017, there were still 45 detainees left at the camp.
I am asking Congress to ensure that in the fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists wherever we chase them down, wherever we find them, and in many cases for them it will now be Guantanamo Bay.
At the same time, as of a few months ago, our warriors in Afghanistan have new rules of engagement. Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines and we no longer tell our enemies our plans. Last month I also took an action endorsed unanimously by the US Senate, just months before. I recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Shortly afterward, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America's sovereign right to make this decision. In 2016, American taxpayers generously sent those same countries more than $20 billion in aid. That is why, tonight, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign assistance dollars always served American interests and only go to friends of America, not enemies.
As we strengthen friendships all around the world, we are also restoring clarity about our adversaries. When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle, for I am asking Congress to address a fundamental flaw in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.
My administration has also imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.
But no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally, more brutally, than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea. 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 ever happening. 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 very dangerous position.
We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and to our allies. At the University of Virginia, and a great student he was. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor before returning him to America last June, horribly injured, and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return. Otto's wonderful parents, Fred and Cindy are here with us tonight along with his brother and sister, Austin and Greta.US Political CorrespondentThe Warmbiers were surprise special guests at tonight’s speech, as was North Korean refugee Ji Seong-Ho
Incredible people. You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength truly inspires us all. Thank you very much. Tonight we pledge to honor Otto's memory with total American resolve. Thank you.
Finally, we are joined by one more witness to the ominous nature of this regime. His name is Mr. Ji Seong-ho. In 1966, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day he tried to steal coal 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. Later he was tortured after a brief visit, returning from China. His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians. He had and he resolved after that to be free. Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches all 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. Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those old crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all.US Economics EditorJi Seong-ho raised the crutches Mr Trump referenced in his speech to applause from the chamber, in an effective and visually powerful moment during the president’s speech. The question of how the administration will respond to the threat posed by North Korea is one of the most vexed hanging over the world today; the situation could hardly be more dangerous and the lawmakers in attendance know it.
Seong-ho's story is the testament of everyone to live in freedom. It was the same yearning for freedom that gave birth to a special place called America. It was a small cluster of colonies caught between a great ocean and a vast wilderness. It was home to an incredible people come with a revolutionary idea that they could rule themselves. That they could chart their own destiny and that together they could light up the entire world. That is what our country has always been about.
That is what Americans have always stood for, always strived for, and always done. Atop the dome of this capital stands the statue of freedom. She stands tall and dignified among the monuments to our ancestors, who fought and lived and died to protect her. Monuments to Washington, and Jefferson, and Lincoln, and King. Memorials to the heroes of Yorktown, and Saratoga to young Americans who shed their blood on the shores of Normandy and the fields beyond, and others who went down in the waters of the Pacific and the skies all over Asia. Freedom stands tall over one more monument. This one. This capitol. This living monument. This is the monument to the American people.US Political CorrespondentChants of ‘U-S-A!’ ‘U-S-A!’ break out in the audience at this line - evoking Mr Trump's numerous campaign rallies - where this was a frequent rallying cry.
We are a people whose heroes live not only in the past, but all around us, defending hope, pride, and defending the American way. They work in every trade, they sacrifice to raise a family. They care for our children at home. They defend our flag abroad. They are strong moms and brave kids. They are firefighters and police officers and border agents, medics, and marines.
Above all else, they are Americans. This capital, the city, this nation, belongs entirely to them.
Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them. Americans fill world with art and music. They push the balance of science and discovery. They forever remind us of what we should never ever forget. The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. It is the people who are making America great again.US Economics EditorMr Trump has adopted a loftier tone in this speech than in his addresses early in his administration, and has made liberal use of heroic individual stories throughout the address to illustrate his points. The change may in part reflect the ejection of Steven Bannon and his dystopian visions from the White House. Yet Mr Trump’s attempts to strike a unifying tone and appeals to national unity and bipartisanship will be viewed with deep cynicism by many Democrats. This goes especially given the aggressive posture Mr Trump took on immigration and his words about the threats posed by criminal gangs such as MS-13.
As long as we are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve. As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will never fail.
Our families will thrive. Our people will prosper, and our nation will forever be safe and strong, and proud, and mighty, and free. Thank you, and God bless America. Good night.