Tonight, President Donald Trump will try to hit the reset button.
During his short time in office, the 45th president has dealt with the troublesome rollout of a controversial travel ban, a high-profile, high-level resignation, an increasingly combative relationship with the press, and more leaks than a Drake album. We haven’t even mentioned the rumors about his administration’s alleged communications with Russia.
To call his first month in office chaotic would be putting it gently.
During his first nationally televised address to a joint session of Congress, Trump is expected to discuss all of these issues. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a February 21 press briefing that the president "is going to lay out two things — where we've come and where we're going." He added that it will be an “opportunity to remind members of Congress and the American people what he promised them on the campaign trail."
It’s important to remember this speech is geared toward Congress. Trump needs to explain to members what his legislative agenda is going to look like, and how it will positively affect the American people, as the Brookings Institution think tank explains. Additionally, although Republicans control both chambers of Congress, majorities in both chambers are small, which means Trump is going to have to work with Democrats. This is not the time for Trump to throw a tantrum.
From trash talking opponents to Russia denials to replacing the Affordable Care Act, here are the five things you should look out for during tonight's address.
The President’s Tone
Trump’s approval rating is at a historic low for new presidents. Only 44% of Americans approve of his performance, while 48% disapprove, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Things look bleak, especially considering former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush all had positive approval ratings at the start of their White House tenures.
Trump needs to reinvent himself, which means he cannot have a repeat of his depressing inaugural address. During that speech, he described a grim state of the U.S., proclaiming: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” Although the speech was dark, Twitter was lit:
White House aides, who promised a more positive tone this time, have said the theme of Tuesday’s speech is "the renewal of the American spirit.” However, as NPR points out, aides said his inaugural address was going to be sunny. So we’ll believe it when we see it.
More Details On His Immigration Policies
Memos issued last week caused panic with threats of mass deportations. Trump is set to give the world more insight into how he intends to pay for 5,000 new Border Patrol agents, 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, facilities, training, and other expenses necessary to implement his immigration policy.
Meanwhile, Democrats are bringing guests who are directly affected by Trump’s orders on immigration as well as his failed travel ban. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) will be joined by a Muslim critical care doctor from Pakistan, The Hill reports. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) will be accompanied by an immigration attorney from Chicago who is a child of refugees from Gaza. Also, three House Democrats will bring young undocumented immigrants who hold Obama-era work permits protecting them from deportation.
“If he looks up during the speech,” Gutierrez said in a news release. “I want Trump to see the face of a woman, the face of a Muslim, and the face of someone whose family has enriched and contributed to this country despite starting out as refugees.”
Trump Bragging About His Achievements
We’re warning you now, it’s coming. Politico got ahold of a list of 11 talking points from tonight’s speech, which includes these choice quotes:
“One by one, President Trump has been checking off the promises he made to the American people.”
“The President will lay out the concrete steps he has already taken to make the American Dream possible for all of our people.”
Face it, dude is going to talk a lot of trash.
It’s imperative that journalists fact-check Trump after the event. When Trump announced Alexander Acosta as his Labor Secretary nominee, the president claimed he had achieved the biggest electoral victory since Ronald Reagan. In reality, Trump officially received 304 electoral college votes compared to the 332 votes Barack Obama received in 2012, according to NBC News. When confronted with his error, Trump said: "I don't know, I was given that information... But it was a very substantial victory, do you agree with that?"
What’s Going To Replace The Affordable Care Act
Despite the fact that Republicans have been calling for the repeal of Obamacare since 2011, they do not agree on a replacement for Obama’s hallmark policy. Pushback across the U.S. has impeded efforts to get rid of the legislation. Nevertheless, Trump said Sunday at dinner for the National Governors Association he would give details about what will replace Obamacare.
Judging by a comment he made on Monday, it’s not clear whether the Affordable Care Act will be replaced soon. “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” Trump said at a meeting with insurers at the White House. How he’s only now come to that realization is beyond us.
What’s Up With Russia
The New York Times and CNN reported that Trump’s aides were in frequent contact with Russian officials before the election, sparking investigations into the administration. Terry Szuplat, a speechwriter for Obama, told Newsday: “He’s going to have to obviously address the biggest vulnerability, even among Republicans, and that’s his relations with and his advisers’ contacts with Russia.”
Even George W. Bush wants to see the receipts. “I think we all need answers... I'm not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered," he said in an interview on the Today show on Monday.