Trump Presented an Optimistic View of Government in Third State of the Union
The president pointedly mentioned the administration’s support for the most important change in federal employee benefits in decades: paid family leave.
The White House dubbed President Trump’s third State of the Union address on Tuesday night “The Great American Comeback” as he presented his administration’s accomplishments and painted an optimistic vision for the future.
During the 66 minute speech, the president boasted about the strong economy and cited his immigration crackdown, support for the military, and deregulation agenda as critical factors in what he characterized as America’s rising fortunes.
“We must never forget that the only victories that matter in Washington are victories that deliver for the American people,” he said.
While Trump devoted much of his speech to issues he campaigned on—combatting illegal immigration and boosting the economy—he pointedly mentioned the administration’s support for the most important change in federal employee benefits in decades: paid family leave.
“I was recently proud to sign the law providing new parents in the federal workforce paid family leave, serving as a model for the rest of the country,” he said. “Now, I call on the Congress to pass the bipartisan Advancing Support for Working Families Act, extending family leave to mothers and fathers all across the nation.”
He credited one of his signature issues—“slashing a number of job killing-regulations”—with helping to boost the economy. He signed an executive order shortly after his inauguration in 2017 that requires agencies to cut two regulations for every new one issued.
“Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anyway in the world, by far,” he said.
In October, the Office of Management and Budget said that billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of work hours have been saved as a result of the Trump administration's regulatory changes. Then in late December the administration scored a victory when a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by groups challenging the order.
Trump lauded the efforts of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in the arrest of more than “120,000 criminal aliens charged with nearly 10,000 burglaries, 5,000 sexual assaults, 45,000 violent assaults, and 2,000 murders.”
He also noted progress on his promise to build a wall on the southwest border with Mexico despite fierce pushback from Congress: “We have now completed over 100 miles and will have over 500 miles fully completed by early next year.”
Customs and Border Protection said in a status report on Jan. 31 that the price tag for the 576 mile wall is now up to $11 billion. It is considered the most costly wall in the world, NPR reported. Last month a federal appeals court rejected a lower court’s decision blocking the administration from shifting $3.6 billion earmarked for military projects to wall construction. However, the Pentagon’s inspector general said in December his office will review a recent $400 million border wall contract for potential improper influence by the Trump administration.
Trump’s honored guests reflected many of his administration's priorities, some of whom were federal employees and veterans. They included: U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz; Kelli Hake and her son Gage, whose husband and father, respectively, was killed in Iraq during an attack ordered by the Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani, who was subsequently killed by U.S. troops acting under Trump’s orders; Jody Jones, whose brother was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant; Army veteran Tony Rankins, who started a business in an “opportunity zone” created through the administration's 2017 tax reform; and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó.
The president ended on an upbeat note: “Our brightest discoveries are not yet known. Our most thrilling stories are not yet told. Our grandest journeys are not yet made. The American Age, the American Epic, the American Adventure, has only just begun.”