WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday urged bitterly divided Republicans and Democrats to work toward compromises on immigration and infrastructure after a bruising year of partisan battles that centered on Trump’s leadership.
“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” Trump said in his first State of the Union address, delivered in the chamber of the House of Representatives.
Trump used the speech to try to overcome doubts about his presidency at a time when he is battling a probe into his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia and suffering low job approval ratings. The speech was short on details of his policy proposals.
While Trump called for bipartisanship, evidence of the deep divide between the parties was clear. Republican lawmakers cheered wildly at the president’s applause lines, while Democrats often sat in their seats silently.
Trump took credit for U.S. economic gains including a soaring stock market and a low jobless rate. He boasted about the economic growth he believes will result from tax cuts Republicans pushed through Congress late last year.
“This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream,” he said.
Trump said he would like a compromise over a plan to rebuild aging roads, bridges and other infrastructure. He said he wanted legislation to generate at least $1.5 trillion through a combination of federal, state and local spending as well as private-sector contributions.
“I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve,” he said.
Facing a deadline on an immigration controversy and strong Democratic opposition, Trump was calling for the type of cooperation between Republicans and Democrats that has eluded him during a rocky first year in office.
While the rhetoric was often high-flying, Trump provided some reminders of partisan battles over the past year.
He singled out a speech guest, 12-year-old Preston Sharp, for leading an effort to put American flags on the graves of 40,000 veterans, saying the initiative was “why we proudly stand for the national anthem.”
His belittling of National Football League players who refused to stand for the anthem in protest against police treatment of minorities dominated headlines last autumn.