WASHINGTON (Reuters) – US President Donald Trump plans to present an option to the Democrats in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday: “Working together to make progress, wrangle, and do nothing.
Trump said on Friday that the annual speech on US policy would include an intense talk about the political stalemate with Democrats over building a wall along the border with Mexico, a major bickering issue between the two parties that led to a 35-day closure of some government departments that ended a week ago.
Prolonged discussion could undermine any attempt by Trump to compromise, which many Republicans, some close to the White House, are urging to offer in an effort to calm the atmosphere and overcome the row over the closure.
Beyond the wall, a White House official told Reuters Trump would talk about things Republicans and Democrats might be able to agree on, including a plan to fund infrastructure development across the country, reduce the cost of drugs and work to resolve long-standing differences over the health care program.
Excerpts from the speech published by the White House made it clear that he would speak at least conciliatoryly in part of his speech.
“Together we can break decades of political stalemate, we can overcome divisions, heal old wounds, build new alliances and find new solutions,” Trump said.
It was not clear whether the two sides were ready to work together in any way as tensions remained over the battle to close departments and another deadline was set for Feb. 15.
“It will offer an option, either to work together and to do great things or to argue and not to do anything,” said the official, who asked not to be identified.
The letter comes as Trump begins his third year in his first four-year term, facing major challenges, such as investigating the possibility of collusion between his presidential campaign in 2016 and Russia, as well as Democratic House polls on his presidency, business projects and tough trade negotiations with China. As well as other problems.
Trump and his advisors do not believe the battle over the government closure will leave a deep wound. Many Republicans urge him to focus his speech on the economy and try to broaden the range of supporters so that it is not limited to the conservative base, which represents about a third of the electorate only.
Presidential aides said Trump would talk about immigration and demand the construction of the border wall.
Nancy Pelosi, who won the post of speaker of the House of Representatives after the Democrats won a major victory in November’s midterm elections, has vowed not to support financing the construction of the wall, an issue that has increased tensions between the two parties.
Republicans urge Trump not to dive into immigration in his speech. Republicans are keen to win the 2020 election, not only in the presidential election but also to regain control of the Senate.
Trump is also expected to talk about foreign policy. He said on Thursday he would probably announce the venue of his summit by the end of February with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and Hanoi is the city’s top candidate.
He may also talk about progress in peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban fighters. He said a peace deal would allow the United States to withdraw troops from Afghanistan after a 17-year war in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Officials said Trump and his advisors were considering withdrawing half of US troops from Afghanistan in a major drawdown that could provoke criticism of Trump that he was jeopardizing US gains in Afghanistan.
Trump is expected to announce in his speech that the war against pro-Syrian militants in Syria has almost ended, reinforcing his decision to withdraw 2,000 troops from Syria in another surprise move that angered many members of his party.
Trump is expected to work with his chief speechwriter Stephen Miller to craft the speech during a weekend trip to Mar El Ago Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.