WASHINGTON—The speech delivered by President Donald Trump Tuesday night at a Joint session of Congress received enthusiastic acknowledgements from Republicans while Democrats ranged from cautious to downright suspicious of Trump’s agenda.
“I thought the highlights were the guests that he brought. The college student with the story of a father looking at a rare disease from Notre Dame brought me to tears,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters. “I thought the speech was a very good speech–probably the best I’ve heard from him.”
Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, who was hoping to hear about a balanced budget amendment during Trump’s remarks described the speech as “terrific” otherwise.
Texas Republican Sen Ted Cruz told reporters, “This was a speech that responded to so many people across this country who have been struggling and haven’t been heard. Another moment that was very powerful was when he recognized the families of those who had been murdered by violent criminal illegal aliens…those are stories that aren’t told and they are stories that need to be told.”
However, not everyone was pleased. One House Democrat told TheDC that Democratic House leadership met with members previously to allay some more irritated party members.
“We met and you know some people were pretty exercised. And I think that it was decided that we should maintain decorum in a way that we didn’t feel that Republicans did for President Obama.”
Democrats, however, barely applauded when Trump first entered the chamber and many sat during even the most unifying statements. Nevertheless, President Trump did make remarks that peaked their interest that included working on paid family leave, lessening the price of prescription drugs, and rebuilding the country’s infrastructure.
“I would say that it’s hard to figure out where Donald Trump stands on an issue on any given day. I mean you heard a very different position on a lot of issues during the campaign or different positions last week,” Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen told TheDC. “But if the president wants to work on things like modernizing our national infrastructure, if he wants to work on reducing the cost of prescription drugs, let’s get to work.”
Van Hollen added, “But that’s not what he’s doing up here. What he’s focused on right now is blowing up the Affordable Care Act and pursuing divisive policies, so if he wants to get to work on the other issues we’ve said we’re ready to do it, but he doesn’t seem ready despite what he talked about tonight.”
Delaware Democratic Sen. Tom Carper appeared surprised at the difference between Trump’s inauguration speech and his remarks Tuesday night.
“Whoever wrote this speech read did not write his inaugural address. That address was very dark. This is more uplifting more inclusive and which is good, and I said that coming into this tonight…he talked about unity and trying to pull together and work together. And he did that I hope he meant it. And time will show if he did,” Carper told reporters.