Politics

State of the Union Will Be Used to Prod on Immigration, Infrastructure

Address will take place under cloud of collusion, obstruction investigations

Vice President Mike Pence (left) and Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., applaud as President Donald Trump delivers an address to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28, 2017. He will deliver his first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In his first official State of the Union address, President Donald Trump will tell the country how the “roaring” economy is “lifting up” folks of all backgrounds and ask Congress to pass sweeping immigration and infrastructure legislation, says a senior administration official.

Trump will speak from the well of the House chamber shortly after 9 p.m. on Tuesday evening in an address the senior official described as crafted with a “bipartisan” and “unifying” message. But the address will come under a black cloud: the ongoing Justice Department and congressional probes into potential ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia, as well as whether he obstructed justice with some of his actions since taking office.

On specific policies, Trump will try to “get the country excited about the urgency” of the need to devote a large sum of federal monies to rebuilding America’s “depleted” roads, bridges, airports, tunnels, and seaports, the senior official said. In addition to trying to sell the need for a massive infrastructure bill — perhaps as large as $1.7 trillion — he also will talk about “how we’re going to do it right and how we’re going to do it fast,” the official told reporters Friday.

[Analysis: Takeaways From White House Immigration Soft Launch]

Trump also will “talk about his plan,” a package Trump and his staff has promised for a year but not yet delivered.

Immigration also will play a major role. The official referred reporters to details of framework for legislation the White House previewed on Thursday and will release in full on Monday. Trump will use Tuesday’s speech to try and convince Americans that his mix of border security, legalization for immigrants already here and limiting legal migration options is the best approach.

On trade, the senior official said the president will have a message similar to the one he delivered during a major speech in Asia last year, that any deals must  be “fair and reciprocal.”

On national security,the senior administration official gave no indication there would be new policy announced, but the president will reiterate positions on North Korea and Iran and his intention to rebuild the military.

[Trump On Claim He Wanted to Fire Mueller: ‘Fake News’]

Overall, the senior official described the address as “not the ’state of the Republican Party or the ’state of the base,” saying it will focus on “national issues” and “commonsense agenda items.”

The White House will use the annual guests in the first lady’s box to spotlight individuals who have “benefited” from the Republican tax overhaul law and “faces” of the opioid crisis, a second administration official said.

That same official “expects” White House and administration officials to fan out across the country after the speech to help sell its contents, but she declined to get into specific plans.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.