Read the full transcript of Trump’s speech to Congress.
President Donald Trump’s second formal State of the Union address on Tuesday night takes place as the president and Congress try to find a solution to avert another government shutdown on February 15. The speech was delayed two weeks amid the longest government shutdown in history, and Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are still at an impasse.
The theme of the speech is “choosing greatness,” according to a briefing Friday with administration officials. The prepared text includes this statement: “Together we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.”
It’s something of an irony Trump is choosing to highlight togetherness after the longest government shutdown in American history, in which he amped up divisions over immigration and his campaign promise to build a border wall. Democrats have said they don’t want to negotiate over border security with federal workers’ paychecks in the balance. Trump finally reopened the government, but has been continuing to keep up pressure on building the wall.
After the speech, Stacey Abrams, whose run for Georgia governor galvanized Democrats although it was ultimately unsuccessful, will respond for Democrats. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) will also issue a response of his own.
You can watch a live stream of the State of the Union above or on the White House YouTube channel. A rush transcript of Trump’s speech will follow once the State of the Union begins at 9 pm.
Trump: Thank you very much madam speaker, vice president, members of Congress, the first lady of the United States. [applause]
And my fellow Americans. We meet tonight at a moment of unlimited potential, as we begin a new Congress, I stand here ready to work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs for all Americans. Millions of our fellow citizens are watching us, gathered in this great chamber, hoping we will govern not as two parties, but as one nation. [applause]
The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or Democrat agenda, it is the agenda of the American people. Many of us have campaigned on the same core promises, to defend American jobs and demand fair trade for American workers, to rebuild and revitalize our nation’s infrastructure, to reduce the price of health care and prescription drugs, to create an immigration system that is safe, lawful, modern and secure, and to pursue a foreign policy that puts America’s interests first.
There is a new opportunity in American politics, if only we have the courage together to seize it. [applause] victory is not winning for our party, victory is winning for our country. [applause] this year, America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America’s vision and the power of American pride.
In June we marked 75 years since the start of what general Dwight Eisenhower called “the great crusade,” the allied liberation of Europe in world war ii. [applause] on d-day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the skies, and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea to save our civilization from tyranny. Here with us tonight are three of those incredible heroes. Private first class Joseph Riley, staff sergeant Erving Walker — and sergeant Hartman Zeitcheck. [applause]
Gentlemen, we salute you. In 2019 we also celebrate 50 years since brave young pilots flew 1/4 of one million miles through space the plants of American flag on the face of the moon. Half a century later, we are joined by one of the Apollo 11 astronauts who planted that flag, Buzz Aldrin. [applause] thank you, buzz. This year, American astronauts will go back to space in American rockets. [applause]
In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, redefined the middle class, and when you get down to it, there is nothing anywhere in the world that can compete with America. [applause] now we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure. We must create a new standard of living for the 21st century.
An amazing quality of life for all of our citizens is within reach. We can make our communities safer, our families stronger, our culture richer, our faith deeper, and our middle class and more prosperous than ever before. [applause] but we must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good. [applause]
Together we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge all divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make. We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction. Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness. [applause]
Over the last two years, my administration has moved with a urgency and historic speed to confront problems neglected by leaders of both parties over many decades. In just over two years since the election, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom, a boom that has rarely been seen before. There has been nothing like it. We have created 5.3 million new jobs, and importantly, added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs, something which almost everyone said was impossible to do, but the fact is, we are just getting started. [applause]
Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades, and growing for blue-collar workers, who I promise to fight for. They are growing faster than anyone else. Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. [applause] the U.S. Economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world. Not even close. [applause] unemployment has reached the lowest rate in over half a century. [applause] african-american, hispanic American, and asian-american unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.
Unemployment for Americans with disabilities has also reached an all-time low. [applause] more people are working now than at any time in the history of our country. 157 million people at work. We passed a massive tax cut for working families and double the child tax credit. [applause] we have virtually ended the estate tax, or death tax that is — as it is called, for small businesses, ranches and family farms. [applause] we eliminated the very unpopular Obamacare individual mandate penalty. [applause] and to give critically ill patients access to life-saving cures, we passed very importantly, right to try.
My administration has cut more regulations in a short period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure. companies are coming back to our country in large numbers, thanks to our historic reductions in taxes and regulations. [applause] and we have unleashed a revolution in American energy. The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. [applause] and now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy. [applause] after 24 months of rapid progress, our economy is the envy of the world. Our military is the most powerful on Earth, by far, and America — [applause] America is again winning each and every day. members of Congress, the state of our union is strong. [applause] [crowd chanting usa]
pres. Trump: That sounds so good. [laughter] pres.
Trump: Our country is vibrant and our economy is thriving like never before. Friday it was announced we added another 304,000 jobs last month alone, almost double the number expected. [applause] an economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous, partisan investigations. [applause] if there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just does not work that way.
We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad. this new era of cooperation can start with finally confirming the more than 300 highly qualified nominees who are still stuck in the Senate, in some cases years and years waiting — not right. [applause]
The Senate has failed to act on these nominations, which is unfair to the nominees, and very unfair to our country. Now is the time for bipartisan action. Believe it or not, we have already proven that is possible. In the last Congress, both parties came together to pass unprecedented legislation to confront the opioid crisis, a sweeping new farm bill, historic v.a. Reforms, and after four decades of rejection, we passed a v.a. Accountability, so we can finally terminate those who mistreat our wonderful veterans. [applause] and just weeks ago, all parties united for groundbreaking criminal justice reform. They said it couldn’t be done.
last year, I heard through friends, the story of alice johnson. I was deeply moved. In 1997, alice was sentenced to life in prison as a first time, nonviolent drug offender. Over the next 22 years, she became a prison minister, inspiring others to choose a better path. She had a big impact on that prison population and far beyond. Alice’s story underscores the disparities and unfairness that can exist in criminal sentencing, and the need to remedy this total injustice. She served almost that 22 years, and had expected to be in prison for the remainder of her life. In June, I commuted alice’s sentence. When I saw alice’s beautiful family greet her at the prison gates, hugging and kissing and crying and laughing, I knew I did something right. Alice is with us tonight, and she is a terrific woman. Terrific. Alice, please.
Alice, thank you for reminding us that we always have that howard to shape — the power to shape our own destiny. Thank you very much. [applause] pres.
Inspired by stories like alice’s, my administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the first step act into law. Big deal. That is a big deal. [applause] pres. This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the african-american community.
The first step act gives nonviolent offenders the chance to reenter society as productive, law-abiding citizens. Now, states across the country are following our lead. America is a nation that believes in redemption. We are also joined tonight by matthew charles from tennessee. In 1996, at the age of 30, matthew was sentenced to 35 years for selling drugs and related offenses. Over the next two decades, he completed more than 30 Bible studies, became a law clerk, and mentored many of his fellow inmates. Now, matthew was the very first person to be released from prison under the first step act.
Matthew, please. [applause] pres. Thank you, matthew. Welcome home. [applause] pres.
Now, Republicans and Democrats must join forces again to confront an urgent national crisis. Congress has 10 days left to pass a bill that will fund our government, protect our homeland, and secure are very dangerous southern border. Now is the time for Congress to show the world that America is committed to ending illegal immigration and putting the ruthless coyotes, cartels, drug dealers, and human traffickers out of business. [applause] pres.
As we speak, large, organized caravans are on the March to the United States. We have just heard that Mexican cities, in order to remove the illegal immigrants from their communities, are getting trucks and buses to bring them up to our country in areas where there is little border protection. I have ordered another 3750 troops to our southern border to prepare for this tremendous onslaught. This is a moral issue. The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well-being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today who follow the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. [applause]
I want people to come into our country in the largest numbers ever, but they have to come in legally. Tonight, I’m asking you to defend are very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and our country. No issue better illustrates the divide between America’s working-class and America’s political class than illegal immigration. Wealthy politicians and donors push for open borders, while living their lives behind walls and gates and guards.
Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal immigration, reduced to jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools, hospitals that are so crowded you can’t get in, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net. Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate, it is actually very cruel.
One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north. Smugglers use migrant children as human pawns to exploit our laws and gain access to our country. Human traffickers and sex traffickers take advantage of the wide-open areas between our ports of entry to smuggle thousands of young girls and women into the United States and to sell them into prostitution and modern-day slavery.
Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities, including meth, heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. The savage gang Ms 13 now operates in at least 20 different American states and they almost all come through our southern border. Just yesterday, an ms-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York city. We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border, they are going to keep streaming right back in. Year after year, countless Americans are murdered by criminal illegal aliens. I’ve gotten to know many wonderful angel moms and dads and families. No one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache that they have had to endure. Here tonight is deborah bissell, just three weeks ago her parents were burglarized and shot to death in their reno, nevada, home by an illegal alien. They were in their 80’s and are survived by four children, 11 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren. Also here tonight are gerald and sharon’s granddaughter heather and great-granddaughter madison. To debroah, heather, madison, please stand. Few can understand your pain. Thank you and thank you for being here. Very much. [applause]
I will never forget and I will fight for the memory of gerald and sharon, that it should never happen again. Not one more American life should be lost because our nation failed to control it’s very dangerous border. In the last two years, our brave
ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults. 30,000 sex crimes, and 4000 killings or murders. We are joined tonight by one of those law enforcement heroes, ice special agent elvin hernandez.
Thank you. Well elvin was a boy, the end his family legally immigrated to the United States from the dominican republic. At the age of eight, he told his dad he wanted to become a special agent. Today, he leads investigations into the scores of international sex trafficking. He says that if I can make sure these young girls get their justice, I’ve really done my job. Thanks to his work work and thaf his incredible colleagues, more than 300 women and girls have been rescued from the horror of this terrible situation and more than 1500 sadistic traffickers have been put behind bars.
We will always support the brave men and women of law enforcement and I pledge to you tonight that I will never abolish our heroes from ice. Thank you. My administration has sent to the Congress a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border. It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry. In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall — but the proper wall never got built. I’ll get it built.
This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier — not just a simple concrete wall. It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need, and as these agents will tell you, where walls go up, illegal crossings go way down. San diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country. In response, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings. The border city of el paso, texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, el paso is one of our safest cities. Simply put, walls work and walls save lives.
So let’s work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe. As we work to defend our people’s safety, we must also ensure our economic resurgence continues at a rapid pace. No one has benefitted more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58% of the new jobs created in the last year.
You were not supposed to do that. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before. Don’t sit yet. You are going to like this.
And exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.
Trump: That’s great. Very great. And congratulations. That’s great. As part of our commitment to improving opportunity for women everywhere, this Thursday we are launching the first ever government-wide initiative focused on economic empowerment for women in developing countries.
To build on our incredible economic success, one priority is paramount — reversing decades of calamitous trade policies. So bad. We are now making it clear to China that after years of targeting our industries, and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end. Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion of chinese goods — and now our treasury is receiving billions of dollars a month from — but I don’t blame China for taking advantage of us. I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen. I have great respect for president xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs.
Another historic trade blunder was the catastrophe known as nafta. I have met the men and women of michigan, ohio, pennsylvania, indiana, new hampshire, and many other states whose dreams were shattered by nafta. For years, politicians promised them they would negotiate for a better deal. But no one ever tried — until now. Our new u.s.-mexico-canada agreement — or usmca — will replace nafta and deliver for American workers like they have not had delivered to for a long time. I hope you can pass the usmca into law so we can bring back our manufacturing jobs in greater numbers, expand American agriculture, protect intellectual property, and ensure that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words — made in the U.S.A.