WASHINGTON – While Democrats and Republicans Tuesday showed few signs of bipartisanship during President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, there were a few moments where the two sides appeared to agree — on criminal justice reform and increasing opportunities in rural areas.
Both parties also stood to honor the president’s guests who seemed to transcend party lines. Among those were Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guidó; one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, Brig. Gen. Charles McGhee; the parents of ISIS hostage Kayla Mueller; and Amy Williams, a military spouse.
In the first display of policy-based bipartisan support, Democrats applauded when Trump praised the enactment of a criminal justice reform law.
Trump signed the First Step Act earlier in his presidency, legislation that received overwhelming bipartisan support. In his 2019 State of the Union, the president said the act gives nonviolent offenders the opportunity to reenter society as “productive, law abiding citizens.”
“Everybody said that criminal justice reform could not be done, but I got it done, and the people in this room got it done,” Trump said.
Later in his address, the president said America’s infrastructure must be rebuilt, eliciting a standing ovation from both parties. The reaction was matched when Trump addressed access to the internet.
But the few moments of bipartisanship were overshadowed by even more moments of Democratic silence or open disdain.
When Trump said Congress should send him a bill lowering prescription drug prices, many Democrats rose to point three fingers in the air and yell “H.R. 3,” – a House-passed bill to lower drug cost that has stalled in the Republican-led Senate.