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Trump challenges Congress to take on issues 'neglected by both parties'

President Donald Trump will call for bipartisanship Tuesday night — as long as it leads to his desired policy outcomes.

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In his State of the Union address, the president will urge lawmakers to break “decades of political stalemate,” according to excerpts released by the White House. But he will push for progress in areas where Congress has failed to find consensus during his presidency, from immigration to infrastructure, trade and drug prices.

The president will seek cooperation to address issues “neglected by BOTH parties over many decades.” However, the remarks come as the prospect of harmony appears increasingly dim.

Congressional negotiators are struggling to reach a deal to overhaul the immigration system and avoid another partial government shutdown when funding expires on Feb. 15. Earlier in the day, Trump railed against Democrats in a lunch with television anchors, including by calling Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer a “nasty son of a bitch,” according to The New York Times.

The president will outline what he considers his successes and push for what he calls “the agenda of the American People” before a joint session of Congress. Still, the issues Trump plans to target will hardly be easy to resolve in an era of divided government when his hopes for re-election next year hang by a thread.

Trump will push for an “immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens” — a goal which undoubtedly includes the proposed border wall that he has so far failed to build. Democrats did not yield to Trump’s demand to fund the barrier, leading to a 35-day partial government shutdown during parts of December and January.

He will also say that “both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure.” Democrats and Republicans want to upgrade U.S. roads, bridges and tunnels, but need to resolve differences about how to fund the improvements.

Trump will push for “reversing decades of calamitous trade policies.” The president is currently trying to overcome congressional skepticism to pass a new North American trade agreement and strike a trade overhaul with China by March 1.

Even many Democrats agree with his effort to revise trade deals and enforce better protections for U.S. workers. But members of both major parties who favor free trade have pushed back against his tariff policy that threatens a devastating trade conflict with China if the world’s two largest economies cannot strike a new agreement.

In addition, Trump plans to push for lower drug prices, saying “it is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs.” Still, Republicans and Democrats still need to agree on how best to reduce those costs for consumers.

The State of the Union address comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democrats dealt Trump a blow on one of his signature issues, immigration. The party has repeatedly hammered Trump for the border wall impasse and shutdown, which caused hundreds of thousands of federal workers to miss two paychecks. For years before this week’s immigration talks, the issue has proven intractable in Congress.

Democrats, who control the House but not the Senate, put the partial closure front and center on Tuesday night as many lawmakers brought government employees who lost pay as their guests.

When a White House official previewed Trump’s speech last week, the intended calls for bipartisan cooperation were met with skepticism. The president has called for civility and unity at numerous points during his time in the White House, only to take jabs at his political foes soon after.

Trump took swipes at more than Schumer as he previewed his speech earlier in the day, according to the Times. He called former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 presidential foe, “dumb.”

The president used the derisive nickname “Pocahontas” for another potential Democratic candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The senator has claimed Native American heritage.

He also criticized the late GOP Sen. John McCain for voting against a Republican health care plan and suggested that the lawmaker’s book “bombed.”

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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This post was originally posted at https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/05/trump-urges-cooperation-on-immigration-in-state-of-the-union-address.html. WGEH does not own this content and is not responsible for it.

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