Congressional Black Caucus remains seated after Trump's black unemployment remark
President Donald Trump struck a rare bipartisan tone in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night. But he still managed to anger plenty of people.
The list starts with Democrats, of course, who showed their displeasure over a year’s worth of policies and personal attacks by withholding their applause and remaining seated throughout most of his 81-minute speech before a joint session of Congress.
Fiscal conservatives bristled at Trump’s victory lap over the new tax overhaul, disappointed that it threatens to dramatically increase the federal deficit. His base is frustrated with his immigration proposal that would offer nearly 2 million young immigrants a path to citizenship. And those who are worried about the president going to war didn’t much like his extensive tough talk on North Korea.
Here is a glimpse of those nowhere near as jubilant as many congressional Republicans with Trump’s speech and what they found lacking or maddening:
Immigration: Conservatives push back on ‘amnesty’
Trump immediately angered those who supported him based on his pledge to crack down on illegal immigration by trying to sell lawmakers on what they ruefully insist is amnesty.
His contentious immigration plan ends the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals granting temporary, renewable work permits to young immigrants brought into the country illegally by their parents, but only after offering 1.8 million of them legal status and a chance at citizenship.
Trump said his plan is “a down-the-middle compromise” that should be supported by both sides of the aisle, neither of which gets everything they want. “For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem,” he said. “This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen.”
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which has been pushing for enforcement measures for years, said Trump went further in touting “amnesty” than his aides had when he boasted that he was including “three times more people than the previous administration.”
“He promoted his amnesty proposal as legalizing more illegal aliens than Obama’s DACA program, as though that’s a good thing,” he said.
Infrastructure: Cities wanted a detailed plan — but Trump fell short
Officials who run the nation’s cities have been waiting for Trump to make good on a campaign promise to find money to repair the nation’s highways, airports, dams and bridges. They didn’t get that Tuesday.
Trump called on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for infrastructure, but with every federal dollar leveraged to produce investments by state and local governments and, possibly, the private sector.
But Trump provided no specifics while repeating a proposal that irked city officials last year when he suggested that cities and states put in their fair share.
Mark Stodola, mayor of Little Rock, Ark., and president of the National League of Cities, said localities have put in the vast majority of money spent on infrastructure, about $3 for every $1 the federal government spends. “We would love the opportunity to educate the administration,” he said. “The federal government needs to pay for its share.”
Stodola also said Trump gave few details on where the money would be coming from. “There’s no details,” he said. “I had hoped for a little more.” Just last week, while in Washington, White House officials told him Trump would suggest spending a total of $1.7 trillion. But by Tuesday, it had been reduced to $1.5 trillion.
While campaigning for president, Trump promised a job-creating $1 trillion infrastructure bill within his first 100 days in office. That goal was not met. His first budget proposal, which did not pass, only included $200 billion for infrastructure.
#Metoo: Survivors disappointed by a lack of the movement’s mention
The #Metoo movement was seen all over the Capitol with scores of lawmakers wearing black and inviting survivors of sexual assault and harassment as their guests. But you couldn’t tell by listening to Trump’s speech. Just down the street, the women’s group UltraViolet projected a message on Trump International Hotel: “Donald Trump harassed or assaulted TWENTY women. Congress: Investigate Trump. #SOTU.”
Trump spoke about a flurry of topics, domestic and foreign, but failed to mention the issue that has taken down prominent actors, journalists and even members of Congress.
Laura Dunn, a campus assault survivor turned advocate, was disappointed — but not surprised — he failed to mention the issue, especially after she said his administration made a series of changes she said hurt victims. Those measures included allowing colleges to resolve assault claims of through mediation and allowing more time for schools to conduct investigations. Dunn leads SurvJustice, an organization that provides legal aide assistance, policy advocacy and institutional training, which sued the administration last week to reinstate survivor protections revoked by the Department of Education.
“Why would the abuser-in-chief draw attention to a movement sweeping the nation and galvanizing women and our allies like never before,” Dunn asked. “Brushing aside national concerns around sexual harassment and abuse during tonight’s State of the Union shows that he is unwilling to acknowledge issues within his administration, the federal government and in Congress around ongoing sexual abuses.”
Guantanamo: Human Rights groups fight to close the detention center
Human Rights groups quickly cried foul after Trump announced for the first time that he would keep open the controversial detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reversing a decision by President Barack Obama.
Groups, including Human Rights First and Amnesty International, condemned the decision, which they said threatens United States’ national security and is out of step with American ideals.
Major General Michael Lehnert, the first commanding officer of Guantánamo when it opened in 2002, called the prison a “propaganda boon for our enemies” and a distraction for our allies. “Far from serving our national interest, Guantanamo undermines it,” he said. “There’s simply no need for an offshore detention facility that operates in legal grey zones.”
The camp remains open nine years after Obama signed an executive order stating the camp “shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order.”
African American lawmakers: Black unemployment gains doesn’t erase what you said
Congressional Black Caucus members remained seated — and coldly silent — as Trump touted job growth and drops in unemployment. Even as he paid special attention to jobs for African Americans.
“Something that I’m very proud of African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded," Trump pausing for impact, before continuing, "... and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.”
The cameras panned to the African American lawmakers, many of whom had kente cloth in their pockets to protest Trump's alleged remark referring to African nations as “shithole” countries during immigration talks.
Despite the applause, the black lawmakers did not give an inch. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., flatly stated that any credit for drops in black unemployment belongs to Obama. “President Trump boasting that African American unemployment is at an all-time low because of him. Two words he should be saying instead: Thanks, Obama. #SOTU,” Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-North Carolina, tweeted.
Some Democrats, including members of Congressional Black Caucus, also booed during Trump's immigration proposal and had to be quieted down by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California.
North Korea: Trump takes aim at ‘Rocket Man’
North Korea took more hits from Trump, stoking concerns from global civil society groups that the U.S. president risks provoking another tense Twitter and rhetorical confrontation with North Korea’s leader.
Trump didn’t mention “Rocket man” as he has referred to Kim Jong-un, but Trump said North Korea’s “reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles” could soon threaten the United States. He warned Americans that they only needed to look at the “the depraved character of the North Korean regime” to understand the nature of the nuclear threat.
Groups, such as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons said such language only heightens instability between the two adversaries. “This is not 'Peace through strength,' but instability through terror,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN.
Tax overhaul: The fiscal conservatives not impressed
They may be conservative, but deficit hawks are not fans of Trump’s tax law.
The president took some time to brag about his biggest legislative victory, touting that 3 million people received tax cuts and everyone will benefit from a higher standard deduction.
“This is our new American moment,” Trump said. “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”
But fiscal conservatives slammed Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax bill that’s projected to blow up the federal deficit — the difference between the amount of money the government spends and takes in.
“It totally left out the point that there is no economic model that suggests growth will eliminate the increase in the deficit,” said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense.
McClatchy correspondents Lesley Clark and Emma Dumain contributed.