US president Donald Trump has called upon politicians to “summon the unity” needed to make good on long-standing promises to fix the nation’s crumbling infrastructure and fractured immigration systems in his State of the Union address.
“To every citizen watching at home tonight, no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time,” Mr Trump declared.
“If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything.”
Despite his calls for bipartisanship, Mr Trump spoke with tensions running high on Capitol Hill.
An impasse over immigration prompted a three-day government shutdown earlier this year, and politicians appear no closer to resolving the status of the “Dreamers” – young people living in the US illegally ahead of a new February 8 deadline for funding operations.
The parties have also clashed this week over the plans of Republicans on the House intelligence committee to release a classified memo on the Russia investigation involving Mr Trump’s presidential campaign – a decision the White House backs but the Justice Department is fighting.
At times, Mr Trump’s address appeared to be aimed more at validating his first year in office than setting the course for his second. He devoted significant time to touting the tax overhaul he signed at the end of last year, promising the plan will “provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses”.
He spoke about potential agenda items for 2018 in broad terms, including a call for $1.5 trillion (€1.2 trillion) in new infrastructure spending and partnerships with states and the private sector. He touched only briefly on issues like health care that have been at the centre of the Republican Party’s policy agenda for years.
Tackling the sensitive immigration debate that has roiled Washington, Mr Trump redoubled his recent pledge to offer a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants – as part of a package that would also require increased funding for border security, including a wall along the US-Mexico border, ending the nation’s visa lottery method and revamping the current legal immigration system.
Some Republicans are wary of the hardline elements of Mr Trump’s plan and it is unclear whether his blueprint could pass Congress.mMr Trump played to the culture wars, alluding to his public spat with professional athletes who led protests against racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem, declaring that paying tribute to the flag is a “civic duty”.
Republicans led multiple rounds of enthusiastic applause during the speech, but for the opposition party it was a more sombre affair.
Democrats provided a short spurt of polite applause for Mr Trump as he entered the chamber, but offered muted reactions throughout the speech. A cluster of about two dozen Democrats, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, remained planted firmly in their seats, staring sternly at the president and withholding applause.
First lady Melania Trump, who has largely stayed out of the spotlight following the latest allegations of Trump infidelity, arrived at the capitol ahead of her husband to attend a reception with guests of the White House.
Those sitting alongside the first lady included an Ohio welder who the White House says will benefit from the new tax law and the parents of two Long Island teenagers who were believed to have been killed by MS-13 gang members.