President Donald J. Trump addressed the 116th Congress during his State of the Union address on February 5, asking for unity and an end to the divisiveness that plagues Washington, D.C., as he faces a divided Congress for the first time in his presidency. Trump lauded a strong economy and foreign policy achievements, while looking ahead to priorities he would like to work with Congress to achieve in 2019.
Trump urged Congress to focus on areas of bipartisan agreement with moving forward an infrastructure package. However, little detail was given on the priorities he’d like to see in the package. Passing an infrastructure bill has been a priority of the president since his inauguration, but little movement on a comprehensive bill has resulted in Congress.
Following the conclusion of the speech, the White House issued additional information on his infrastructure plan, while still leaving most details to be worked out by Congress. Within the priorities, the White House highlighted prioritizing the use of technology, emphasizing rural needs, and reducing permitting requirements to expedite progress.
While water issues were left out of the speech, several members of Congress invited guests from communities affected by contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) brought Andrea Amico, founder of the organization Testing for Pease, a community group founded to address contamination around the Pease Air Force Base. Representatives Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) and Anthony Delgado (D-New York) each brought residents from Oscoda, Michigan, and Hoosick Falls, New York, respectively, areas dealing with contamination from PFAS.