Wednesday 24 January 2018

10 things we learned from Donald Trump's first speech to Congress

President Donald Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress Photo: Reuters/Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool
President Donald Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of Congress Photo: Reuters/Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

President Donald Trump addressed Congress for the first time on Tuesday night and has been praised for his more optimistic and presidential tone, as he heralded a "new chapter of American greatness."

In his hour-long address, Mr Trump defended his early actions in office, giving himself an "A+ for effort" but a "C" for communication as president.

He was met with almost unanimous applause during his speech and received a number of standing ovations.

From a revised travel ban to calls for unity, here are 10 things we learned from his speech.

1. Weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants to be published

One of the only announcements not met with rapturous applause during his address, Trump stated he had launched a new agency that would compile a list of all immigrants who had committed crimes.

"I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims," he told Congress.

"The office is called VOICE — Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests."

This announcement was met with groans by lawmakers.

2. Trump to sign executive order for revised travel ban

Shortly after his speech, it was reported that the president is preparing a revised travel ban order.

The new immigration order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary US travel ban.

Trump is expected to sign the executive order in the coming days.

Originally, Trump's order imposed a 90-day ban on travellers from Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq.

3.  Mexico may not have to pay for the wall after all

While Donald Trump made repeated reference to the "great wall" he has promised to build on the southern border of the US, he made no mention of making Mexico pay for it.

He had repeatedly promised that Mexico would foot the bill throughout his campaign.

However, he didn't mention this in his first speech to Congress.

"We will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border," he told lawmakers.

"It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime," he claimed.

4. Trump finds his presidential voice

Some people were pleasantly surprised by Trump's speech, claiming he received the unthinkable: a conventional speech.

He condemned attacks on Jewish cemeteries and outlined his checklist of business accomplished so far.

The Washington Post hailed his speech as "surprisingly presidential", describing it as a "toned-down affair".

5. Hailed Yemen raid as "highly successful"

Donald Trump insisted the Yemen raid, which saw the first combat fatality of his administration, was "highly successful" during his speech.

He also addressed Navy Seal William "Ryan" Owens, who died in the mission which saw 14 militants and many civilians killed.

"Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero - battling against terrorism and securing our Nation," the president said before defending the Yemen raid.

6. Trump claims he will provide massive tax relief for the middle class - but will he?

Some critics have questioned Trump's claims he will provide massive tax relief, as he provided little detail on how this would happen during his speech.

Independent analyses of his campaign's tax proposals found that most of the benefits would flow to the wealthiest families.

7. Obama Care to be repealed

Vowing to repeal Barack Obama's signature health care law, Mr Trump outlined how people will be allowed to buy insurance across state lines and announced plans of offering tax credits to help Americans purchase insurance.

He suggested he would get rid of the current law's requirement that all Americans carry insurance coverage, saying that "mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America."

8.  Calls for bipartisanship met with silence

During his speech, Trump turned to Democrats and said: "Why not join forces to finally get the job done and get it done right?"

Democrats sat silently while Republicans stood and cheered.

9. He can be upbeat

He closed his address with optimism: "I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and -- Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America."

He also largely avoided attacks on his Democratic opponents and the media.

10. 'Radical Islamic terrorism' is here to stay

Trump had been asked by his National Security Adviser HR McMaster to avoid using the term "radical Islamic terrorism" but it risked turning Muslims "into the enemy."

However, in his speech, Trump vowed "We are also taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism," with strong emphasis on the last three words.

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