1 March 2017
- From the sectionUS & Canada
President Donald Trump preached a message of unity in his Congress address but fails to back that up with action, top Democrats have said.
He has no plan and has “not reached out to us once”, said the party’s Senate leader, Chuck Schumer.
President Trump struck an unusually optimistic tone in his first address to both legislative chambers.
He has had a bumpy first 40 days in office, firing a top aide and having his travel ban halted by the courts.
On Tuesday night, he said the time for “trivial fights” was over and urged the two parties sitting in front of him to come together to solve the nation’s problems.
But Mr Schumer listed a number of issues where the president was unwilling, in his view, to compromise or hear their side.
On the Affordable Care Act, for instance, he said his party was willing to work on making the law better, but Mr Trump would consider only repeal.
And Mr Schumer said the Democrats had sent the president a plan on improving the country’s infrastructure but had not heard back.
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“The speech and reality have never been more detached in a presidential speech,” he said.
The Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said “all they have is rhetoric – we don’t have any reality in terms of any legislation”.
Mr Trump was also criticised by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for saying the violence in the city was “unacceptable”.
Previously, the president has blamed poor leadership in the city for the high murder rate, and said he would “love to help them”.
But after the speech, Mr Emanuel said he had “repeatedly” requested help from the Trump government for better partnerships and more funding for mentoring and after-school programmes, but had never heard back.
Republicans were largely happy with the speech, in which the president looked forward to a “new chapter of American greatness”.
In other speech highlights, Mr Trump:
- condemned anti-Semitic attacks and an Indian’s killing in Kansas as hate crimes
- talked tough on immigration, repeating his pledge to build a wall on the Mexico border
- outlined a blueprint for an Obamacare replacement and urged Congress to make it happen
- asked Congress to pass a $1tn (£800bn) infrastructure package
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer described it as a “big night” and Mr Trump himself simply tweeted: “THANK YOU!”
“What the American people saw last night is the president that I serve with every day,” said Vice-President Mike Pence.
“Broad shoulders, big heart, reaching out, focusing on the future.”
The White House had briefed journalists earlier in the day that the president might compromise on his hallmark issue, immigration, by being open to granting legal status to undocumented immigrants.
But there was no mention of that policy shift in his speech.