2019 State of the Union

(Compiled from reports at CNN, Politico and Bloomberg News) — President Donald Trump appeared to suggest Friday that he will announce some kind of border wall action during Tuesday’s State of the Union address, which he will deliver at 9 p.m. EST.

Asked if he expects to declare a national emergency over the crisis at the border and the need for Congress to approve border wall funding, Trump told reporters: “I don’t want to say it, but you’ll hear the State of the Union, and then you’ll see what happens right after [that]. We’re going to make a big step in the next week or so, prior to my doing anything, but actually having a national emergency does help the process.”

Asked again if a national emergency should be expected, the President said: “I think there’s a good chance that we’ll have to do that. But we will at the same time be building, regardless, we’re building a wall….”

The president is also expected to urge Congress to compromise on issues including immigration and infrastructure in his Febuary 5 address, as he asks Democrats to focus on working with him on legislation. The theme of his speech will be “choosing greatness,” a White House official told reporters.

Trump’s speech “will focus on the bipartisan achievements we’ve already had, and look toward things that should be areas where we can work together” with Democrats, a White House official said.

“I really think it’s going to be a speech that is going to cover a lot of territory, but part of it is going to be unity,” Trump told reporters on Thursday.

Later Friday, a senior White House official explained the topics that President Trump will cover, including: the economy, illegal immigration, trade deals — including the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement and the US Reciprocal Trade Agreement Act and the deal with China — infrastructure, lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs, and national security.

Compiled from reports at CNN, Politico and Bloomberg News published on February 1. Reprinted here for educational purposes only. 


NOTE to students:  Read the information under “Background” below before answering the questions. 

1. a) What is the State of the Union address? What is the purpose of the address?
b) When and where is the State of the Union given?

2. What will be the theme of President Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night?

3. How will the president’s speech focus on unity?

4. List the 6 major areas President Trump will cover in his address.

5. What action did President Trump suggest he will discuss during his State of the Union address?

6. President Trump’s address will focus on domestic and national security issues. Which of the following do you think are most important for President Trump to include in his State of the Union address? Explain your answer.

  1. the economy/the historic job growth/tax reform
  2. terrorism/national security
  3. North Korea nuclear threat
  4. China tariffs and a fair trade deal; China theft of intellectual property
  5. illegal immigration crisis/building a wall on our southern border/declaring a national emergency over the illegal immigration crisis on our southern border/another possible government shutdown if Democrats turn down another proposal by Trump to fund the wall
  6. fixing ObamaCare/health care/prescription drug prices
  7. education
  8. the opioid crisis
  9. pulling troops out of Syria and Afghanistan
  10. Venezuela
  11. Democrat proposed programs of free college, free healthcare, free abortions for all people living in the U.S., and increasing taxes on “the rich” to 70-90%
  12. other (explain)

7. Ask a parent what issues he/she thinks President Trump should focus on in his State of the Union, and to explain his/her answer.


  • For the text and video of the 2019 State of the Union address, go to the White House youtube page, or c-span.org.)
  • Read the text of the President’s address at WhiteHouse.gov.
  • Watch the State of the Union address and answer the following questions:

1.  Tone is the attitude a speaker takes towards a subject. What was the tone of President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address?

2. What was the overall theme of the president’s speech?

3.  a) What general statement did President Trump make about the economy in his address to the nation?
b) What is your reaction to this encouraging statement?
c) Ask a parent the same question.

4. List some of the things the President promised to do to improve the economy.

5.  What new initiatives did President Trump propose in his State of the Union?

6.  Which issues did the President bypass altogether, or just mention briefly?

7.  What issue presented by President Trump was the most important to you?  Did any aspect of the speech disappoint you?  Explain your answers.

8. a) Do you think the President is focusing on the correct issues? Explain your answer.
b) Ask a parent the same question.

10. Watch/read the Democratic response to the President’s State of the Union on live TV following the President’s SOTU or at c-span.org. The response speech is shorter and often given as a rebuttal to the opposition party’s ideas and plans. This practice began once television became a major part of politics. According to the Senate’s website, the first opposition party response to a State of the Union speech was in 1966 when then-Senate Majority Leader Everett Dirksen (R-Illinois) and House Minority Leader Gerald Ford (R-Michigan) gave a response to President Lyndon Johnson’s State of the Union address. Stacey Abrams, who served in the Georgia state assembly for 10 years before becoming Georgia’s 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate gave the response. What do you think of Ms. Abrams’ response?


The annual State of the Union Address is a time for a president to lay out his agenda for the nation.

“The President shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”  US Constitution Article II, Section 3

  • The State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President to the United States Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda (for which he needs the cooperation of Congress) and his national priorities.
  • By tradition, the President makes this report annually.
  • While not required to deliver a speech, every president since Woodrow Wilson has made the State of the Union report as a speech delivered before a joint session of Congress. Before that time, most presidents delivered the State of the Union as a written report.
  • Since Wilson, the State of the Union is given typically each January before a joint session of the United States Congress and is held in the House of Representatives chamber of the United States Capitol.
  • George Washington gave the first state of the union address on January 8, 1790 at the Federal Hall in New York City.
  • Thomas Jefferson, the nation’s third president, did not continue this practice. In 1801, Jefferson detailed his priorities and sent written copies of his message to each house of Congress. Jefferson “was concerned that the practice of appearing before the representatives of the people was too similar to the British monarch’s ritual of addressing the opening of each new Parliament with a list of policy mandates, rather than ‘recommendations.’”
  • For the next 112 years, the President’s annual message was written, not spoken.
  • In the 20th Century, the oral address was revived, first with Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Like Washington, he spoke to both Houses of Congress. Ten years later, Calvin Coolidge broadcast his address on radio.
  • Franklin D Roosevelt called the speech the “State of the Union” in 1935. In 1947, Harry Truman, FDR’s vice president – who succeeded him as President, was the first to broadcast his State of the Union address on television.
  • Since 1966, the State of the Union address has been followed by a response from a member of the opposition party.


  • To read pro-Trump and anti-Trump perspectives, go to a website that links to op-eds from both perspectives: RealClearPolitics.
  • Liberals/progressives stand in strong opposition to every proposal/policy President Trump makes. For a liberal perspective of President Trump’s speech, go to the liberal website TheNation.com  
  • Conservatives generally support the President’s policies.  Although in President Trump’s case, several traditional consevative websites like National Review have been opposed to him personally as well as his policies on several important issues. Fox News is known as the “conservative” news station. However, Shep Smith, John Roberts and Bill Hemmer appear to hold him in disdain. They ususally oppose/question any policy Trump attempts to implement. For a conservative perspective of President Trump’s speech, read a commentary by Michael Goodwin or Mark Steyn or listen to conservative radio talkshow hosts Rush Limbaugh or Mark Simone.
  • It is customary for the opposing party to respond to a President’s State of the Union address.  Democratic Stacey Abrams of Georgia will give the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union Address. Watch Ms. Abrams’ response at c-span.org.
  • For texts and/or videos of Presidential State of the Union Addresses since 1945, go to c-span.org/SOTU.
  • Watch or read President Trump’s entire speech at whitehouse.gov/sotu  or c-span.org
  • Who were President Trump’s special guests for the State of the Union? Read about each guest here.
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