cronkitenews.azpbs.org WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump used his first speech to a divided Congress Tuesday to call for unity, with a pledge to “work with you to achieve historic breakthroughs” and a plea to “govern not as two parties, but as one nation.” “The agenda I lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democratic agenda,” Trump said at the outset of his State of the Union address. “It is the agenda of the American people.” But while the speech included broad policy targets and applause lines that drew all members of Congress to their feet, there were also calls for an end to “ridiculous partisan investigations” of his administration and demands for a border wall that drew groans some in the chamber. Some even laughed at Trump’s suggestion that if not for his election as president, the U.S. would be at war with North Korea by now. The divide in the chamber could be seen in the white dresses worn by about 60 of the Democratic women to show solidarity with other women, and in the scores of standing ovations from the Republican side of the chamber as the Democrats sat. And it was mirrored in Arizona’s congressional delegation, whose reactions largely followed party lines. “If he wanted to unify the country, he would have given a different speech than he gave tonight,” said Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix. “He seemed intent on providing divisive rhetoric versus bipartisan solutions.”
But Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, said the speech “shows a compassionate America” that is badly in need of bipartisanship and a unifying message. “We are in a civil war right now in this country. It’s just we haven’t fought that war with bullets yet,” Gosar said. “We are so divided, I see it in my own family. So what is it? Does the American public win … or do the parties lose?” The speech was the first since Democrats took control of the House and followed a bitter stalemate between the White House and Congress that led to a five-week partial shutdown of the government earlier this year. It was also delivered a week later than originally scheduled, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, withdrew an invitation for Trump to speak while the government was shut down. The speech, Trump’s third to a joint session of Congress, clocked in at close to 90 minutes, about twice as long as early reports suggested it might be. It was interrupted almost 100 times by applause, only about one-third of which included more than a handful of Democrats.
President Jonathan Nez & Vice President Myron Lizer @ONEADJUSTMENT had the honor of attending the State of the Union w/ @SenatorTomUdall and @RepOHalleran. We also thank @SenatorRomney, @SenatorSinema, @SenTedCruz, @MartinHeinrich & @SenatorLeahy for their warm welcome. #SOTU pic.twitter.com/0jmdIALxEc— Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez (@NNPrezNez) February 6, 2019
What appeared to be the most divisive issue was Trump’s renewed call for a border wall as part of “a commonsense proposal to end the crisis on our southern border” that includes more officers, better drug detection and tighter laws. “In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall – but the proper wall never got built,” Trump said. “I will get it built.” Trump dedicated more than two pages of his 11-page speech to the “very dangerous southern border,” which he portrayed as open to gangs, sexual abuse, drug smugglers and human traffickers. He drew groans when he said action was needed to stop “large, organized caravans … on the march to the United States.” Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson, whose district includes much of the border accused Trump of “mischaracterizing, exaggerating and outright lying about the situation on the southern border.” “The crisis we have at our border is manufactured, and manufactured by Trump and his administration,” said Grijalva, pointing to the former White House policy of separating children from parents at the border. “It was all about him repeating the same exaggerations and lies he’s been repeating.”
Navajo Nation VP Lizer and I had a great discussion before the #SOTU. Grateful to have him in the chamber tonight, and I look forward to continuing to work together to address the needs of Navajo families. #AZ01 pic.twitter.com/dtD0JAgZDU— Rep. Tom O'Halleran (@RepOHalleran) February 5, 2019
Both Nez and Lizer were interested in Trump’s call for greater investments in infrastructure, an action Trump said was, “not an option. This is a necessity.” “When I heard maybe infrastructure stimulus, it made me think there was hope that we could give more funding resources to Indian Country,” Nez said. O’Halleran said it is easier to talk about bipartisanship than to practice it, particularly when it comes to controversial legislation. He would “rather see actions than talk.” “But we have to do it in a way that’s not. ‘It’s my way or the highway,’ on either side,” O’Halleran said. “So we have to find that secret balance.” Cronkite News reporters Micah Alise Bledsoe and Luv Junious contributed to this report.
On my way to the #SOTU with Navajo Nation President Nez. He comes to Washington with so many stories of how the #TrumpShutdown disrupted critical health & safety services in Native communities— stories we must keep in mind as we consider the current state of our union. pic.twitter.com/sbiajuANep— Tom Udall (@SenatorTomUdall) February 6, 2019