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Weeks after shutdown, Trump State of the Union to call for bipartisanship

Themed "choosing greatness," the speech is expected to cover topics ranging from immigration and troop withdrawals to health care costs and infrastructure spending.
Image: Trump shakes hands as he leaves after delivering his first State of the Union address
President Trump after delivering his first State of the Union address in the House on Jan. 30, 2018.Win McNamee / Pool via AP file

WASHINGTON — Amid an ongoing partisan showdown over his border wall request that caused a five-week government shutdown, President Donald Trump plans to issue a call for bipartisan cooperation during his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, according to an administration official.

"Together, we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future," Trump will say, said the official. "This vision is ours to make."

The speech, which was delayed a week after Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Trump he wasn't welcome to deliver it while parts of the federal government weren't open, is expected to focus on five main topics: immigration, U.S. trade relationships, Trump's call for new infrastructure spending, efforts to lower the costs of health care for consumers, and foreign policy, such as the president's plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria.

The theme of the speech, the administration official said, is "choosing greatness," and Trump will "encourage Congress to reject the politics of resistance and retribution."

"Resistance" is the word many Democrats have used to describe their opposition to Trump's policies and his presidency.

Still, the official said Trump will try to identify areas of common ground that he can share with Democrats, who won control of the House of Representatives and who maintain enough votes in the Senate to block legislation.

To that end, Trump will "try to provide a bipartisan way forward" on immigration, the official said.

Earlier Friday, the president lashed out at Democrats for standing in the way of the wall he has promised to build along the U.S. border with Mexico.

"We were getting nowhere with the Democrats. ... I think Nancy Pelosi should be ashamed of herself," he said of the House speaker, a California Democrat.

Trump reiterated that he plans to build the wall with or without Congress, where a joint House-Senate committee is currently debating border-security legislation, and he has said repeatedly that he might declare a national emergency to further that aim.

While emergency powers would not give him money to fund a wall — Congress retains the power of the purse — he may try to transfer cash from existing appropriations to build it.

Trump himself declined to preview his plans on that front Friday.

"See what happens after the State of the Union," he said.