President Donald Trump has gone before the US Congress to deliver his first speech aimed at addressing a range of controversial issues, including national security, health reforms, increased defense spending, and immigration.
Late on Tuesday, the new US president addressed the Congress on Capitol Hill for a first time after a turbulent 40 days in office and low approval ratings.
The maiden speech came as protesters had taken to the streets of Washington, DC, ahead of Trump’s arrival at the Congress, chanting slogans against him and stressing that they would bring to court the president for a series of his policies, including a controversial travel ban on seven Muslim-majority nations.
The businessman-turned-president opened his speech by asserting his commitment to US civil rights, decrying the recent wave of threats targeting Jewish centers across the country.
“Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms,” Trump said.
The real estate mogul went on to say that he would “not allow the mistakes of recent decades” to define the course of the United State’s future.
Doors open to immigration reform
In his speech, Trump called for a broad overhaul of the US immigration system and vowed to pursue massive tax relief for the middle class.
Adopting a conciliatory tone in comparison with his 2016 campaign, Trump said a broad immigration plan was possible if both Republicans and Democrats in Congress were willing to compromise.
“I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws,” he noted.
The new US president also outlined what he would like to accomplish during his first year in office from reforming healthcare and taxes to strengthening US borders and fighting terrorist groups.
Trump also urged the Congress to revoke and replace former Democratic President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, known as Obamacare, with reforms that are more economical.
“Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do,” Trump said.
On foreign policy
During his address, the billionaire businessman stressed that the United States needs “a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world.”
Throwing his full support behind the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance, Trump called on the allies to meet their financial obligations and take a direct role in both strategic and military operations.