President Donald Trump vowed in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to build a border wall that is a source of a deep partisan divide and said Democratic attempts at "ridiculous partisan investigations" could damage US prosperity.
Trump spoke in the chamber of the House of Representatives facing political discord over his demands that Democrats end their opposition to funding for a border wall he says is needed to stem illegal immigration and smuggled drugs.
He called illegal immigration "an urgent national crisis," but stopped short of declaring a border emergency that would allow him to bypass Congress for wall funding. Instead, he urged Democrats and Republicans to find a compromise by a February 15 deadline.
"In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built," Trump said in the highly anticipated speech before a joint session of the US Congress, with his main Democratic adversary, new House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, watching over his shoulder.
Democrats call the wall a waste of money and ineffective.
At the same time, Trump warned that Democratic efforts to investigate his administration, along with the possibility of US involvement in wars abroad, would endanger the US economy.
"An economic miracle is taking place in the United States and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations," he said.
His remarks came as Democrats who now control the House planned a series of probes into the Trump administration and a special prosecutor investigates Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Russia denies meddling and Trump has said there was no collusion.
Apart from lauding economic accomplishments - unemployment near a five-decade low and manufacturing job growth among them - Trump's speech was light on new initiatives to further stoke growth in an economy seen as losing momentum as it began 2019.
A Reuters poll last month forecast economic growth would slow to 2.1 percent this year after likely averaging around 3 percent in 2018.
Two sides at odds
Pelosi, who wore white like many Democratic lawmakers to celebrate the 100th anniversary of American women gaining the right to vote, applauded half-heartedly at times and frequently sat stony-faced through Trump's address.
She has shown no sign of budging from her opposition to Trump's wall-funding demand. That has led Trump to contemplate declaring a national emergency, which he says would let him reallocate funding from elsewhere without congressional action.
Some of Trump's fellow conservatives have urged him not to declare an emergency. Such a move would "upend" the balance of powers between the White House and Congress, Republican Senator Susan Collins told reporters on Tuesday.
Trump used part of his speech to offer a spirit of compromise, particularly in areas such as lowering the price of prescription drugs and funding a $1 trillion upgrade in US roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
But whether Trump and his opponents would follow through was far from clear, with both sides entrenched in long-held positions and girding for 2020 elections, reluctant to give the other side a political victory.
The Republican president appeared in the House chamber just weeks after his demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a US-Mexico border wall triggered a historic 35-day partial government shutdown that more than half of Americans blamed him for, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.
The nationally televised address gave Trump his biggest opportunity to date to explain why he believes a barrier is needed on the US southern border with Mexico. The speech was delayed for a week because of the shutdown, which ended on January 25.
"Simply put, walls work and walls save lives. So let's work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe," Trump said.
Trump also called attention to his efforts to rewrite trade deals with China and other nations to make the terms more favorable to the United States.
As his economic advisers work to complete a trade deal with China, Trump said any agreement "must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs."
He also called out Iran for threats against Israel.
"We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants Death to America and threatens genocide against the Jewish people," he will say.
Trump also addressed foreign policy, including support for an effort to coax Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro into leaving power and declaring Daesh terrorist group all but defeated.
Troop cut in Afghanistan if talks go well
Trump said on Tuesday his administration was holding "constructive talks" with groups in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, and would be able to reduce the US troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism as it makes progress.
"We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement - but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace," Trump said in his annual State of the Union address.
Meeting with North Korea's Kim
Trump said that he would hold his long-awaited second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on February 27 and 28 in Vietnam.
"If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea," Trump said.
In his annual State of the Union address to Congress, Trump said much work remained to be done in the push for peace with North Korea, but cited the halt in Pyongyang's nuclear testing and no new missile launches in 15 months as signs of progress.
His relationship with Kim, he noted, "is a good one."
Trump wants new nuclear treaty to be negotiated
President Donald Trump is suggesting that a multination arms control agreement could be negotiated to replace the one with Russia he is exiting.
Trump accused Moscow of repeatedly violating the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with "impunity" by deploying banned missiles. Russia says it's pulling out, too.
In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, Trump said that perhaps the US could negotiate a "different agreement, adding China and others" or "perhaps we can't."
If not, Trump vowed that the US would "outspend" and "out-innovate" all other nations in the development of arms to protect America.
"Curb on certain types of abortion"
US President Donald Trump called for curbs on certain types of abortions in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, citing recent legislation and debates in Virginia and New York on later-term abortions.
"To defend the dignity of every person, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother's womb," Trump said.
Campaign to end HIV within 10 year
Trump is launching a campaign to end the HIV epidemic in the United States by 2030, targeting areas where new infections happen and getting highly effective drugs to people at risk.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and senior public health officials say the campaign would focus on areas where about half of new HIV cases occur. That includes 48 counties, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and seven states with at-risk rural residents.
Anti-AIDS groups are reacting with both skepticism and cautious optimism.
Trump said in his State of the Union speech Tuesday that funding will be in his budget. He did not specify an amount.
There are about 40,000 new cases of HIV infection a year in the US HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.