2019 State of the Union AddressThe 2019 State of the Union Address was given by the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, at 9 p.m. EST, in the chamber of the United States House of Representatives to the 116th United States Congress. It was Trump's second State of the Union Address and his third speech to a joint session of the United States Congress. Presiding over this joint session was the House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, accompanied by Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States.
It was the first address to a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives since 2010.
The Democratic Response was given by 2018 Georgia Gubernatorial Nominee Stacey Abrams and the Spanish-language response was given by California Attorney General and former U.S. Representative Xavier Becerra.
The Address was watched by 46.8 million viewers, and aired live on 12 major television networks. Viewership statistics do not include views from online live streams. There were also 15.2 million interactions regarding the Address on social media.
BackgroundArticle II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution states that the president "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent an invitation to President Donald Trump on January 3, 2019, to deliver a "State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, January 29, 2019 in the House Chamber." The invitation was sent just hours after her election to Speaker of the House. On January 6, President Trump commented to reporters that "I will be making the State of the Union on January 29. And I look forward to it. I look forward to it. And I look forward to speaking, really, before the world. We have a lot of great things to say."
The Cabinet of Donald Trump, the heads of the 14 of 15 executive departments, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, and members of Congress were invited to attend. Fifteen guests chosen by First Lady Melania Trump were present in the gallery. Energy Secretary Rick Perry was not in attendance as he was named the designated survivor.
PostponementOriginally scheduled for January 29, House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, communicated on January 16 that pursuant to the month-long shutdown of the federal government, citing fears of security concerns regarding unpaid Secret Service members, the President could reschedule the Address or submit a written State of the Union to Congress. Pelosi formally communicated on January 23 that a resolution authorizing the speech in the House chamber would not be considered until the shutdown had ended. Trump announced he would wait to give the State of the Union Address after the end of the shutdown. The shutdown was suspended on January 25, and on January 28, Pelosi issued an invitation for Trump to deliver the Address in the Capitol Building on February 5, 2019. On the same day, Trump accepted Pelosi's proposed date.
The State of the Union Address was given at 9:00 p.m. EST on February 5, 2019. President Trump began the address without an introduction from Pelosi, breaking with a SOTU custom. During the speech, Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind Trump. U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry was named the designated survivor and was at an undisclosed location during the address so that, in case of a catastrophe, the continuity of government would be upheld.
The speech lasted 82 minutes, making it the third longest State of the Union Address. During the speech, Trump discussed bipartisanship, the economy, jobs, unemployment, tax reform, energy production, unity, the opioid crisis, prison reform, immigration, border security, the border wall, trade, infrastructure, prescription drugs, HIV/AIDS, cancer, family leave, abortion, national security, North Korea, Venezuela, the Middle East, ISIS, Afghanistan, Iran, antisemitism, veterans, and opportunity. He also discussed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, socialism, and the War in Afghanistan.
During the address, President Trump announced his next summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The summit took place on February 27–28, 2019 in Vietnam.
In his Address, Trump asserted that "The savage gang MS-13 now operates in at least 20 different American states and they almost all come through our southern border... Just yesterday, an MS-13 gang member was taken into custody for a fatal shooting on a subway platform in New York City. We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border, they are going to keep streaming right back in." The Washington Post fact checker found that MS-13 is active primarily in Los Angeles, Long Island (New York), and the Washington, D.C. metro area. The Washington Post also concluded that 1,332 illegal alien members of MS-13 were deported in fiscal year 2018.
A group of female Democratic members of Congress and their guests wore white (the color of the women's suffrage movement) to bring notice to women's rights. Steny Hoyer also handed out white ribbons to males.
Each member of Congress is allowed to bring one guest and several Democratic members of Congress brought various guests to send a message. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez brought a sexual assault survivor, Pramila Jayapal brought a climate change scientist, and Ilhan Omar brought an undocumented immigrant threatened with deportation.
Several Democratic members of congress boycotted Trump's speech in protest, including Earl Blumenauer, Steve Cohen, John Lewis, and Hank Johnson.
ResponsesOn January 29, 2019, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that Stacey Abrams would deliver the Democratic response to 2019 State of the Union Address. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra gave the Spanish-language response.
The response by the Libertarian Party was given by Jeff Hewitt. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders also gave a response to address.
CoverageThe State of the Union Address was televised on all the major U.S. broadcast and cable television networks. Facebook and Twitter streamed the address online.
ViewershipTotal cable and network viewers Broadcast news channels
Network news channels
ReactionsPolls conducted by CBS gauged approval of speech, viewership, among other things. A poll by CBS found 76% of people approved of the speech. Another poll by CBS based on party identification found that 43% of Republicans, 24% of Democrats, and 30% of Independents watched the address. Another poll based on party identification found that 97% of Republicans, 30% of Democrats, and 82% of Independents approved the message of the speech.
Polls conducted by CNN gauged approval of speech, policy approval, among other things. 59% of viewers approved the President's address. 71% of viewers thought that the President's policies were moving the country in the right direction; 76% on economy, 70% on trade and national security, 68% on immigration, and 65% on taxes.