Donald Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address on Jan. 30 before a joint session of Congress, to mark his initial year in office and present his vision for the next.
The address at the US Capitol comes just after the three-day government shutdown that resulted from lawmakers stalling on a deal to protect DACA Dreamers, an issue that could reignite on Feb. 8, when the stop-gap spending measure to keep the government open expires.
The speech offers Trump an opportunity to outline his 2018 agenda ahead of the crucial midterm congressional elections in November.
The stakes are unusually high for a president’s first State of the Union—Trump’s approval rating is historically low compared to his predecessors. Just 39% of Americans approve of the job he is doing, according to FiveThirtyEight, and 56% disapprove. When Barack Obama gave his first address, he had a 49% approval rating. George W. Bush had a whopping 84% and Bill Clinton 54%.
The White House hasn’t specified what Trump will discuss in his speech, though it’s likely he’ll touch on immigration and border security (the issues at the heart of the shutdown), tax reform (his big win in 2017), the economy (specifically, the booming stock market), and his plan for improving US infrastructure (which White House officials have hinted is next on his agenda).
The State of the Union address will be aired by all major US broadcast and cable-news networks, and will be streamed live online.
When: 9pm US Eastern time
TV: C-SPAN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, Univision, Telemundo, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, PBS
Some Democratic members of Congress, including Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Maxine Waters of California, have already said they won’t attend the speech. “I cannot in all good conscience be in a room, with what he has said about so many Americans. I just cannot do it. It wouldn’t be honest with myself,” John Lewis said in an interview with MSNBC.
Jackie Speier of California is also spearheading a campaign among women in Congress to wear black to the State of the Union address in solidarity with the #MeToo and Times Up movements protesting sexual harassment and misconduct.
Congressman Joseph Kennedy III of Massachusetts, a rising star in the Democratic party widely expected to run for the Senate when a seat opens, will deliver the party’s State of the Union response.
It’s a slot that can draw notice. In 2013, the performance of a desperately thirsty senator Marco Rubio, assigned to respond to Obama, brought attention to the Florida Republican, and his water bottle (at about 00:23 in this video).