DALLAS – President Donald Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night appears to have won over many uncertain Republicans in this state while Democrats said they are waiting to see details of his proposals.
"You know, I think we saw tonight a bold speech, a positive speech,” said U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in an interview with WFAA. “I think we saw President Trump lay out a vision for the direction of our country; a vision that is shared by the vast majority of Americans."
Despite deep political division, President Trump walked in to a joint session of Congress with four minutes of applause and opened his address in a different tone.
"I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength and it is deeply delivered from my heart," said Trump.
Just a month in office, he already claimed some credit.
"We've saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic, and it is a fantastic new F-35 jet fighter," said the president.
Trump also took credit for the surging stock market.
"The stock market has gained $3 trillion in value since the election on November 8th. A record,” he continued.
In his address, the president called for one of the biggest ever increases to defense spending and reiterated promises such as building “a great, great wall along our southern border,” closing the trade gap, enacting paid family leave, and repealing the Affordable Care Act, among others.
Trump added that he wants to bring down the “artificially” high price of drugs, help Americans purchase their own coverage with tax credits and Health Savings Accounts, and ensure people with pre-existing conditions keep coverage.
But Democrats said they are awaiting specifics of Trump’s plan and to learn what the GOP plans to replace the ACA with.
"People that have pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act are doing pretty good. My fear is if they dismantle it piece by piece like they are talking about that they’re really going to have the screws put to them and their insurance premiums are going to skyrocket out of control which is exactly what is going to happen under what they’re talking about in a veil of secrecy,” said U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.
The president spoke for exactly an hour and hoped not only to reset his public perception but improve low poll numbers.
"This was an important moment. It was an opportunity for him to recast his presidency after a rocky first month. There were some positive things in the first month, the cabinet, the Supreme Court nominee, some of the executive orders. There were also some negative moments in that first month,” said Matt Mackowiak, Potomac Strategy Group.
But the battle ahead comes down to specifics that the president proposes. Congress must approve Trump’s vision. His healthcare plan is first up and will go to Congress sometime in March, Trump said at his last press conference. Tax reform is likely after that. And Democrats aren’t likely to offer much support.
A number of federal officials did not show up for the president's first address including U.S. Rep. Al Green, D-Houston, and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg among others.
The so-called ‘designated survivor’ on Tuesday night was David Shulkin, the secretary of Veteran Affairs. He was the highest ranking federal official kept off-site at an undisclosed location in case anything happened at the capitol, according to ABC News.
Among the other reaction after Trump’s address:
U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Denton County: “This evening President Trump delivered a message that jobs and the economy will be a main pillar of his agenda this year. I believe this is a focus that will be met with great enthusiasm by the American people.”
U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas: “In these first two months of the 115th Congress we have already rolled back onerous provisions of the Obama Administration’s regulatory agenda and have started to lay the groundwork to fix our broken healthcare system, reform the tax code, and put hardworking Americans back to work. In the past month, we have seen more than 227,000 new jobs, an uptick in the labor force participation rate, and the stock market has closed at a record high for eleven straight days. It is clear that under Republican leadership our economy is flourishing, the job market is rebounding, and there is a new sense of confidence in our country.”
U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Dallas: “Under eight years of Obama-led foreign policy, we have seen our enemies emboldened and our allies lose confidence in our partnerships. Illegal immigrants have skirted the relaxed rule of law and flooded through our porous borders. Undoing the damage of the past eight years won’t happen overnight, but the president is off to a running start.”
Texas Democratic Party: “Promises have been broken, talk is cheap, and the assault on American values has begun. That is why millions of patriots are courageously fighting back. Once again, Minority President Donald Trump has done nothing to substantively improve the everyday lives of the majority of hardworking Americans. For Texans, the question that remains is critical: will Texas Republicans like Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Greg Abbott, Will Hurd, Pete Sessions, and John Culberson continue to ignore the concerns of their hardworking constituents, cower before Trump, and fall in line with Trump’s dangerous agenda?”
Republican Party of Texas: “President Trump has been fulfilling the promises he made to the American people at a record-setting pace, including bringing back American jobs and nominating a mainstream conservative to the Supreme Court. This evening, he expanded on his plans to pass an aggressive agenda that will solve real problems for real people, ensuring every American who needs a good job gets one, and puts our nation’s security first. It is my sincere hope that Texas Democrats in Congress will join with President Trump and Texas Republican leadership to help fix the problems of this country and Make America Great Again.