The State of Our Union


Hurelayn Abdu, Editor - In - Chief

On February 5th President Trump gave his second State of the Union Address. As members of congress and other high level officials began to trickle into the House Chamber, many female democrats were adorned in all-white outfits, which was a nod to the suffragettes who oftentimes wore white.

Interestingly, this included Trump’s own daughter, Tiffany Trump, who generated some controversy over her choice to wear a white dress. The women’s attire was not the only non-speech related headline that came from the evening as other notable moments occurred including Trump breaking protocol and not waiting for Speaker Pelosi to introduce him. The State of the Union 2019 certainly had its moments.
The president’s speech began with sentiments of unity and bipartisanship. President Trump urged congress to “govern not as two parties but as one nation.” He explained that if Americans work together we can achieve historic breakthroughs. But this message of unity did not last long as he later criticized Democrats for the numerous investigations that have arisen related to his personal finances and collusion with Russia. Addressing the issues, Trump claimed that “If there’s going to be peace and legislation there cannot be war and investigation.”

He then moved into more pressing national issues including the economy, which he bragged about and credited the strength of the economy to his administration’s pro- business efforts, specifically tax cuts and cutting regulations instituted by previous administrations. He boasted that over 50 million jobs have been created since he took office along with “the lowest recorded amount” of African- American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American unemployment rates in history.
The president then brought up the controversial Southern border wall saying, “Tonight I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border.”

Trump then supported his claim that the southern border is an entry way for dangerous people to enter into the country. To support his point, Trump brought up and introduced Deborah Bissell, a young woman whose parents were killed during an armed robbery by an undocumented immigrant. He later addressed the recent pleas of Democrats like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) declaring “I will never abolish our heroes from ICE.”
He ended his speech with “the state of our union is strong.”

Following the speech, as is customary, the Democrats provided a response.
This year’s response came from rising Democratic star Stacey Abrams. Abrams served as the Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017. In 2018 she unsuccessfully ran for governor of Georgia in an election that garnered national attention.

Delivering the response from her party, Abrams began with an anecdote about her childhood. She recounted the time when her father gave his only coat to a homeless man even though it was pouring rain outside. She used this story to illustrate that “we do not succeed alone — in these United States, when times are tough, we can persevere because our friends and neighbors will come for us. Our first responders will come for us.”

She then condemned President Trump for the government shutdown stating that “Making their (federal workers) livelihoods a pawn for political games is a disgrace.” In accordance with Trump’s message of bipartisanship, she stated that “We may come from different sides of the political aisle; but, our joint commitment to the ideals of this nation cannot be negotiable.” Abrams then stressed the importance of keeping the Affordable Care Act, bringing up her father’s bout with prostate cancer. In what was quite a personal approach, Abrams stressed the importance of voting rights protections, an issue that came out during her run for governor.

The next step for the government was to find common ground to counter another government shutdown. The last shutdown, which lasted 35 days, created significant backlash as federal workers missed out on two paychecks, some national parks closed or saw trash pile up, and contractors were left out in the cold.

The shutdown and the subsequent fallout from it has overshadowed the agenda of the new congress. The new congress, sworn in on December 19, 2018, brought a flood of new faces as well as new, and not so new, agendas. During Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s swearing in, she spoke about the Democratic Party’s plans for the next legislative session.

Similarly, Republican leaders in both the House of Representatives and the Senate outlined what they would like to accomplish in the next session.

As usual, democrats have put forth a liberal agenda that focuses on several key issue related to health care. This includes lowering the cost of prescription drugs and stabilizing the Affordable Care Act. Beyond health care, Democrats also want to pass legislation that protects voting rights, tackles climate change, and pass comprehensive immigration and gun reform.

However, they’ve also set out to accomplish more bipartisan causes such as passing a new appropriations and spending bill and a resolution to end American involvement in Yemen.