US president calls for bipartisan unity

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US President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in Washington DC. Xinhua

WASHINGTON  (Xinhua) –  US President Donald Trump called for unity and bipartisanship in his State of the Union address Tuesday night facing a divided Congress after two years of bitter partisan fight and heightening political polarisation that have largely dominated Washington.

Speaking to a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives, Mr Trump urged Congress to “reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution, and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.”

“Together we can break decades of political stalemate,” he said in the prime-time speech. “We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.”

The remarks were part of Mr Trump’s second State of the Union address and his third speech to a joint session of Congress but the first facing a divided Congress.

Republicans lost control of the House after eight years in power during the 2018 midterm elections, while holding onto their majority in the Senate.

Democratic heavyweight Nancy Pelosi, now House speaker, was sitting behind the president during his speech, next to Vice President Mike Pence.

Many female Democratic lawmakers, including Pelosi, were dressed in white appearing on the House floor to show solidarity with “the women of the suffrage movement.”

When Trump said “the state of our union is strong,” Ms Pelosi did not give him a standing ovation, as some Republicans stood and chanted “USA”.

The lack of agreement between the White House and Congressional Democrats over whether to provide billions of US dollars for a border wall along the US-Mexico border, a plank of Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, had led to a record 35-day partial government shutdown, which ended temporarily on January 25.

A tit-for-tat political brawl between Mr Trump and Ms Pelosi over the shutdown delayed the president’s annual update to Congress, originally set on Jan. 29, until Tuesday.

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