Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:
Less than one year has passed since I first stood at
this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the
American People – and to address their concerns, their hopes, and their
dreams. That night, our new Administration had already taken swift
action. A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land.
Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear
vision and a righteous mission – to make America great again for all
Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success.
We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have
imagined. We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of
hardship. We endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all,
we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel in America’s
Each test has forged new American heroes
to remind us who we are, and show us what we can be.
We saw the volunteers of the “Cajun Navy,” racing to
the rescue with their fishing boats to save people in the aftermath of a
We saw strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip.
We heard tales of Americans like Coast Guard Petty
Officer Ashlee Leppert, who is here tonight in the gallery with Melania.
Ashlee was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston
during Hurricane Harvey. Through 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee
braved live power lines and deep water, to help save more than 40 lives.
Thank you, Ashlee.
We heard about Americans like firefighter David
Dahlberg. He is here with us too. David faced down walls of flame to
rescue almost 60 children trapped at a California summer camp threatened
everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico,
the Virgin Islands, California, and everywhere else – we are with you,
we love you, and we will pull through together.
Some trials over the past year touched this chamber
very personally. With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to
serve in this House – a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back
to work three and a half months later: the legend from Louisiana,
Congressman Steve Scalise.
We are incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of
the Capitol Police Officers, the Alexandria Police, and the doctors,
nurses, and paramedics who saved his life, and the lives of many others
in this room.
the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together, not as
Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people.
But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy.
Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out
common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the
people we were elected to serve.
Over the last year, the world has seen what we always
knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or
determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there
is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If
there is an opportunity, we seize it.
So let us begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our Union is strong because our people are strong.
And together, we are building a safe, strong, and proud America.
Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.
Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low.
African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded,
and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in
Small business confidence is at an all-time high.
The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8
trillion in value. That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement,
pension, and college savings accounts.
And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months
ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.
Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.
To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we
nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first
$24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. We also
doubled the child tax credit.
A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 – slashing their tax bill in half.
This April will be the last time you ever file under
the old broken system – and millions of Americans will have more
take-home pay starting next month.
We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell
mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year – forcing them to
pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford
government-ordered health plans. We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare – the individual mandate is now gone.
We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all
the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win
against anyone in the world. These changes alone are estimated to
increase average family income by more than $4,000.
Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.
Here tonight are Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of
Staub Manufacturing – a small business in Ohio. They have just finished
the best year in their 20-year history. Because of tax reform, they
are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding
into the building next door.
One of Staub’s employees, Corey Adams, is also with
us tonight. Corey is an all-American worker. He supported himself
through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was
later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder. Like many
hardworking Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax‑cut raise into his
new home and his two daughters’ education. Please join me in
we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax
cut bonuses – many of them thousands of dollars per worker.
Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers.
This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.
So to every citizen watching at home tonight – no
matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time.
If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America,
then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can
Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we
are going to have, and what kind of Nation we are going to be. All of
us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.
We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag.
Together, we are rediscovering the American way.
In America, we know that faith and family, not
government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our
motto is “in God we trust.”
And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.
Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from
Redding, California, who noticed that veterans’ graves were not marked
with flags on Veterans Day. He decided to change that, and started a
movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great
heroes. Preston: a job well done.
Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our
civic duty as Americans. Preston’s reverence for those who have served
our Nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on
our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem
Americans love their country. And they deserve a Government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.
For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their Government.
Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court Justice,
and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.
We are defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.
And we are serving our brave veterans, including
giving our veterans choice in their healthcare decisions. Last year,
the Congress passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act.
Since its passage, my Administration has already removed more than 1,500
VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve –
and we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do.
I will not stop until our veterans are properly taken
care of, which has been my promise to them from the very beginning of
this great journey.
All Americans deserve accountability and respect –
and that is what we are giving them. So tonight, I call on the Congress
to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good
workers – and to remove Federal employees who undermine the public trust
or fail the American people.
In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.
have ended the war on American Energy – and we have ended the war on
clean coal. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.
Detroit, I halted Government mandates that crippled America’s
autoworkers – so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once
Many car companies are now building and expanding
plants in the United States – something we have not seen for decades.
Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan; Toyota and
Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama. Soon, plants will be opening
up all over the country. This is all news Americans are unaccustomed to
hearing – for many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But
now they are coming back.
Exciting progress is happening every day.
To speed access to breakthrough cures and affordable
generic drugs, last year the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and
medical devices than ever before in our history.
We also believe that patients with terminal
conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could
potentially save their lives.
People who are terminally ill should not have to go
from country to country to seek a cure – I want to give them a chance
right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful
Americans the “right to try.”
One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price
of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far
less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed
my Administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one
of our top priorities. Prices will come down.
America has also finally turned the page on decades
of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away
our companies, our jobs, and our Nation’s wealth.
The era of economic surrender is over.
From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal.
We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.
And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules.
As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire
State Building in just one year – is it not a disgrace that it can now
take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?
I am asking both parties to come together to give us
the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs
and our people deserve.
I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least
$1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.
Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by
partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate,
tapping into private sector investment – to permanently fix the
Any bill must also streamline the permitting and
approval process – getting it down to no more than two years, and
perhaps even one.
Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. We
will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and
waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart,
American hands, and American grit.
We want every American to know the dignity of a hard
day’s work. We want every child to be safe in their home at night. And
we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.
We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.
As tax cuts create new jobs, let us invest in
workforce development and job training. Let us open great vocational
schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full
potential. And let us support working families by supporting paid
As America regains its strength, this opportunity
must be extended to all citizens. That is why this year we will embark
on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their
time get a second chance.
Struggling communities, especially immigrant
communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on
the best interests of American workers and American families.
For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and
gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed
millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the
poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many
Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers: Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens.
Their two teenage daughters – Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens – were
close friends on Long Island. But in September 2016, on the eve of
Nisa’s 16th Birthday, neither of them came home. These two precious
girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown.
Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and
Nisa’s murders. Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring
loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors
‑- and wound up in Kayla and Nisa’s high school.
Evelyn, Elizabeth, Freddy, and Robert: Tonight,
everyone in this chamber is praying for you. Everyone in America is
grieving for you. And 320 million hearts are breaking for you. We
cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow, but we can make sure that other
families never have to endure this pain.
I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that
have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country.
We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws,
and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents, so that this cannot ever
The United States is a compassionate nation. We are
proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the
struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as
President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest
compassion, and my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s
struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities. I want our
youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their
chance to rise.
So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with
members of both parties – Democrats and Republicans – to protect our
citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. My duty, and
the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend
Americans – to protect their safety, their families, their communities,
and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers
Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country: Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez
– he goes by CJ. CJ served 15 years in the Air Force before becoming
an ICE agent and spending the last 15 years fighting gang violence and
getting dangerous criminals off our streets. At one point, MS-13
leaders ordered CJ’s murder. But he did not cave to threats or fear.
Last May, he commanded an operation to track down gang members on Long
Island. His team has arrested nearly 400, including more than 220 from
CJ, great work. Now let us get the Congress to send you some reinforcements.
Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package.
In recent months, my Administration has met
extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan
approach to immigration reform. Based on these discussions, we
presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported
by both parties as a fair compromise – one where nobody gets everything
they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.
Here are the four pillars of our plan:
The first pillar of our framework generously offers a
path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought
here by their parents at a young age – that covers almost three times
more people than the previous administration. Under our plan, those who
meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character,
will be able to become full citizens of the United States.
The second pillar fully secures the border
That means building a wall on the Southern border, and it means hiring
more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan
closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to
enter our country – and it finally ends the dangerous practice of “catch
The third pillar ends the visa lottery
– a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for
skill, merit, or the safety of our people. It is time to begin moving
towards a merit-based immigration system – one that admits people who
are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and
who will love and respect our country.
The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration
Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in
virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we
focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and
minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our
economy, but for our security, and our future.
In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York
were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age
of terrorism, these programs present risks we can no longer afford.
It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.
four pillars represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will
create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.
For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to
solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it
Most importantly, these four pillars will produce
legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that
puts America first. So let us come together, set politics aside, and
finally get the job done.
These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.
In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses:
174 deaths per day. Seven per hour. We must get much tougher on drug
dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.
administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping
get treatment for those in need. The struggle will be long and
difficult — but, as Americans always do, we will prevail.
As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best in America.
We see a vivid expression of this truth in the story
of the Holets family of New Mexico. Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an
officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. He is here tonight
with his wife Rebecca. Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a
pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. When Ryan told her
she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told
him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her
In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him:
“You will do it – because you can.” He took out a picture of his wife
and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In
an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter
Ryan and Rebecca: You embody the goodness of our Nation. Thank you, and congratulations.
As we rebuild America’s strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.
Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist
groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests,
our economy, and our values. In confronting these dangers, we know that
weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the
surest means of our defense.
For this reason, I am asking the Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military.
As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild
our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so
strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression. Perhaps
someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries
of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, we are not there yet.
Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth. One
year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has
liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers
in Iraq and Syria.
But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.
Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck is here tonight.
Near Raqqa last November, Justin and his comrade, Chief Petty Officer
Kenton Stacy, were on a mission to clear buildings that ISIS had rigged
with explosives so that civilians could return to the city.
Clearing the second floor of a vital hospital, Kenton
Stacy was severely wounded by an explosion. Immediately, Justin
bounded into the booby-trapped building and found Kenton in bad shape.
He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an
airway. He then performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground
transport and maintained artificial respiration through 2 hours of
Kenton Stacy would have died if not for Justin’s
selfless love for a fellow warrior. Tonight, Kenton is recovering in
Texas. Raqqa is liberated. And Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star,
with a “V” for “Valor.” Staff Sergeant Peck: All of America salutes
Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian
hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them. When
necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be
clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy
combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the
terrorists they are.
In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds of
dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield –
including the ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi.
So today, I am keeping another promise. I
just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to reexamine our
military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at
I am also asking the Congress to ensure that, in the
fight against ISIS and Al Qaeda, we continue to have all necessary power
to detain terrorists – wherever we chase them down.
Our warriors in Afghanistan also have new rules of
engagement. Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no
longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our
enemies our plans.
Last month, I also took an action endorsed
unanimously by the Senate just months before: I recognized Jerusalem as
the capital of Israel.
Shortly afterwards, dozens of countries voted in the
United Nations General Assembly against America’s sovereign right to
make this recognition. American taxpayers generously send those same
countries billions of dollars in aid every year.
That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to
pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars
always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.
As we strengthen friendships around the world, we are also restoring clarity about our adversaries.
When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of
their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with
the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.
I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.
My Administration has also imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.
But no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.
North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland.
We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.
Past experience has taught us that complacency and
concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat
the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous
We need only look at the depraved character of the
North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it
could pose to America and our allies.
was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to
study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its
conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with
crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship
sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to
America last June – horribly injured and on the verge of death. He
passed away just days after his return.
Otto’s Parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us
tonight – along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta. You
are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your
strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory
with American resolve.
Finally, we are joined by one more witness to the ominous nature of this regime. His name is Mr. Ji Seong-ho.
In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea.
One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few
scraps of food. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks,
exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He
then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain.
His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him
recover and ate dirt themselves – permanently stunting their own growth.
Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning
from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he had
met any Christians. He had – and he resolved to be free.
Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches
across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family
followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to
Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other
defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the
most ‑- the truth.
Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand
you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come.
Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all.
Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.
It was that same yearning for freedom that nearly 250
years ago gave birth to a special place called America. It was a small
cluster of colonies caught between a great ocean and a vast wilderness.
But it was home to an incredible people with a revolutionary idea:
that they could rule themselves. That they could chart their own
destiny. And that, together, they could light up the world.
That is what our country has always been about.
That is what Americans have always stood for, always strived for, and always done.
Atop the dome of this Capitol stands the Statue of
Freedom. She stands tall and dignified among the monuments to our
ancestors who fought and lived and died to protect her.
Monuments to Washington and Jefferson – to Lincoln and King.
Memorials to the heroes of Yorktown and Saratoga – to
young Americans who shed their blood on the shores of Normandy, and the
fields beyond. And others, who went down in the waters of the Pacific
and the skies over Asia.
And freedom stands tall over one more monument: this one. This Capitol. This living monument to the American people.
A people whose heroes live not only in the past, but all around us – defending hope, pride, and the American way.
They work in every trade. They sacrifice to raise a
family. They care for our children at home. They defend our flag
abroad. They are strong moms and brave kids. They are firefighters,
police officers, border agents, medics, and Marines.
But above all else, they are Americans. And this Capitol, this city, and this Nation, belong to them.
Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them.
Americans fill the world with art and music. They
push the bounds of science and discovery. And they forever remind us of
what we should never forget: The people dreamed this country. The
people built this country. And it is the people who are making America
As long as we are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve.
As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail.
Our families will thrive.
Our people will prosper.
And our Nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.
Thank you, and God bless America.