President Donald Trump will deliver his 2019 State of the Union (SOTU) address on Tuesday, Feb. 5. Speculation is swirling that the president may use the address as an opportunity to declare a national emergency, which would enable him to move forward with more wall construction on the southern border despite House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi refusing to authorize funds. What can Congress – and the American people – expect to hear, and what kind of response will Democrats deliver?
There seems to be a consensus in political circles that declaring a national emergency over the building of the border wall is fraught with problems and perhaps even inappropriate. Leading Republicans are not thrilled by the prospect, and such a declaration would, no doubt, throw congressional Democrats into a frenzy. The president is unlikely to make such a pronouncement during his SOTU speech since that would, indeed, be the wrong time and place.
No National Emergency Declaration at SOTU
Even so, it is likely that Trump will raise the issue as he stands before the joint session of Congress. He may well use the occasion to deliver a final ultimatum of sorts, and, depending on the Democrat response to the SOTU, it is certainly possible that a national emergency could be declared the following day. Speaking to reporters after a roundtable at the White House the other day, the president responded to a question on the subject with a tease: “… don’t want to say, but you’ll hear the State of the Union and then you’ll see what happens right after the State of the Union, OK?”
Without question, the immigration issue will be a centerpiece of Trump’s address. Likely, the president will also recap the great economic strides the country has made since he took office – particularly, he’ll point to the most recent jobs report, which probably exceeded even his own expectations.
Domestic and Foreign Policy Highlights
Health care, the ongoing effort to lower the cost of prescription medication and the fight against the opioid epidemic will be covered. Interestingly, the Democrats have spoken frequently about medication costs as if this is something they have championed all along, and so the president will remind them that he already has been working on the issue – albeit with mixed results.
…Trump will likely seek to reassure the Congress and the nation…
Regarding international affairs, Trump will likely seek to reassure the Congress and the nation that he is not planning a precipitous and final withdrawal from Syria. He will repeat his intention to maintain a presence in Iraq and his willingness to continue military action against the Islamic state, should that organization interpret U.S. withdrawal as a green light to renew its plans to establish a “caliphate” in Syria.
The president will highlight the continuing threat posed by Iran, the prospects for negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and, most notably, likely announce a date for his long-anticipated second meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
Dem Response Certain to Be Entirely Predictable
What of the rebuttal from Democrats, though? Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams will deliver her party’s response, and it will probably hold no surprises. It will present a great opportunity for a drinking game: take a shot every time Abrams declares how the Trump tax cuts benefit only the wealthy, how her party will enact legislation that “protects” working families and the middle class, and how the Democrats will resist the scourge of racial division and white supremacism this president has stoked so enthusiastically.
No doubt, the Democrat will repeat the strange assertion that a border wall is immoral, too expensive, and utterly ineffective. Abrams will also describe how Trump has destroyed America’s standing on the world stage and is only concerned with advancing Russian interests. This will segue neatly, of course, into an assurance by Democrats that Trump’s numerous alleged crimes and abuses of power will be thoroughly investigated by House committees.
Somehow, Abrams may throw in a reference to gun violence, as Democrats quietly have been renewing their efforts to limit Second Amendment rights. What Democrats like to call “reproductive rights,” however, might not get a mention in light of the fact that Americans realize that the Democrat position is now abortion on demand for any reason and at any time – including after the cutting of the umbilical cord.
Basically, then, the president will cover the big issues of the day, and the Democrat response will be full of the usual left-wing soundbites and emotional appeals. Both addresses will be augmented with appeals for unity and bipartisanship, even though such concepts appear increasingly hollow.