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Trump to address joint session of US Congress on Feb 28

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US President Donald Trump will address a joint session of Congress late next month, accepting House Speaker Paul Ryan's traditional invitation to deliver the speech to lawmakers and the nation.

[WASHINGTON] US President Donald Trump will address a joint session of Congress late next month, accepting House Speaker Paul Ryan's traditional invitation to deliver the speech to lawmakers and the nation.

The White House and both chambers of Congress are now controlled by Republicans. Trump will come to Congress as a change agent, but he has entered the White House with poor national approval ratings.

"It is my honour to invite you to address a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017, in the hall of the House of Representatives," Mr Ryan wrote in a letter to the president that the speaker published on his Twitter feed on Tuesday.

"This address will give the people and their representatives the chance to hear directly from you about your agenda to tackle the critical challenges we face at home and abroad." White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the president has accepted Mr Ryan's invitation.

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Mr Trump may already have some repair work to do with his Republicans, after he offered a searing repudiation of the Washington establishment in his inauguration speech.

"The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country," Mr Trump told Americans. "Their victories have not been your victories."

Mr Trump is likely to address several objectives he hopes to accomplish in his first 100 days in office, notably a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, the health reforms implemented by his predecessor Barack Obama.

But the complex issue already appears to have set Mr Trump on course for a possible clash with Republicans.

Before his swearing-in, Mr Trump told The Washington Post that he wants the replacement to provide "insurance for everybody," a proposal that usually has been opposed by his party.

Mr Ryan's formal invitation fulfills a tradition that provides an incoming president with the opportunity to address Congress within weeks of taking office.

A joint session of Congress is usually attended by all 100 US senators and 435 representatives.

Previous presidents have used their first speech before Congress as an opportunity to lay down policy stakes before the lawmakers needed to convert much of his plans into law.

But Mr Trump may also seek to soothe the concerns of a weary and nervous nation following last year's divisive presidential campaign.

Mr Obama took a firm but optimistic tone on February 24, 2009, pledging in the midst of financial crisis that America's crippled economy would rebound.

"Tonight, I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before," Mr Obama said to a standing ovation.

Eight years earlier, George W. Bush sought to allay concerns following a bitterly contested presidential election against Al Gore.

Mr Bush also called for a paydown of trillions of dollars in US debt, but warned that the United States "should also prepare for the unexpected," including possible increases in defence spending.

The statement seems eerily prophetic as it came seven months before the September 11, 2001 attacks and costly subsequent US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

AFP

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