State of the Union 2019: What to expect

Trump is expected to renew his border wall demand, touch on ISIL, and address talks with North Korea and China.

    State of the Union 2019: What to expect
    Trump delivered the annual State of the Union to politicians in January 2018 [File: Carlos Barria/Reuters]

    WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT SOTU 2019

    • The speech will begin at 02:00GMT 
    • Last year's address lasted about 80 minutes 
    • Trump's speech was delayed a week due to the shutdown
    • Stacey Abrams will deliver the Democratic rebuttal

    Slated to deliver the annual State of the Union address on Tuesday night, US President Donald Trump will renew calls for a wall on the US-Mexico border, less than two weeks after he suffered a political defeat on that proposal. 

    Trump, who will speak at 9pm EST (02:00 GMT), is not expected to make good on his threats to declare a national emergency in order to secure the funds for the wall. 

    The speech comes on the heels of a record-long partial government shutdown, which ended on January 25 after spanning 35 days.

    In December 2018, Trump allowed the government to shut down after Democrats refused to approve more than five billion dollars in funding for the border wall, one of Trump's main campaign promises. 

    More than half of Americans blamed him for, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.

    The political crisis ended when Democrats and the Trump administration struck an agreement that allowed the government to be funded and reopened until February 15. That deal did not include money for the wall.

    Speaking to the Reuters news agency, a source close to Trump said the president will urge a congressional committee to work out a border security deal by the time government funding runs dry again in 10 days.

    "He's going to set the stage," the source said. "He'll tell people, 'Here's why I should,' but say, 'I'm giving Congress another chance to act.'"

    Trump continued to push his wall in a Tuesday morning tweet in advance of his evening remarks, noting that the Pentagon has sent more troops to the US southern border.

    "We will build a Human Wall if necessary," he said.

    Trump is also expected to address several foreign policy issues, such as trade talks with China, pulling US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, a diplomatic drive with North Korea and a growing political crisis in Venezuela, among others. 

    At some point on Tuesday, Trump is expected to announce the date and location of his next summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The announcement could come before, during or after the speech, according to US media. 

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    On the domestic front, Trump is expected to speak about the US's robust economy and job growth.

    He will also appeal to Democrats for a bipartisan effort on healthcare, lowering prescription drug costs and renewing infrastructure. 

    Border wall still a sticking point 

    But broader cooperation seems unlikely, especially if Trump pushes forward with the border wall. 

    Stacey Abrams, an increasingly popular Democrat and former gubernatorial candidate, will deliver the Democrats' response to Trump's speech. Abrams lost a close, highly-contested race to Republican Brian Kemp during the November 2018 midterms. Xavier Becerra, California's attorney general who has sued the Trump administration dozens of times, will deliver a second rebuttal in Spanish. 

    Several Democrats have invited guests to the speech to highlight various causes, most of them at odds with Trump's policies. 

    A handful of Democratic legislators plan to bring transgender individuals with military experience. In 2017, the Trump administration announced it was reinstating a ban on transgender people serving in the US military. 

    Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat popular for her progressive-leaning politics, reportedly plans to bring a sexual assault survivor who spoke out during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, himself accused of sexual assault. 

    Other Democrats plan to bring undocumented immigrants to send a message as Trump's political agenda centres around reducing immigrants and making it more difficult for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers to enter the US. 

    Trump's guest list includes Alice Marie Johnson, whose life sentence was commuted by the president last year. Others he has invited include, Timothy Matson, a police officer who responded to the October 2018 Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, Elvin Hernandez, a special agent with the human trafficking unit of the Department of Homeland Security and family members of those killed by undocumented individuals in the US. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies