Trump readies State of the Union address » President Donald Trump will deliver his second State of the Union address tonight—a week later than originally planned.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to allow Trump to give the address in the House chamber during the partial government shutdown.
White House officials have so far kept the text of the speech under wraps. But during a Monday interview on Fox News, presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway confirmed the speech will touch on the issue at the heart of the current political battle.
CONWAY: Well, he certainly will address the border wall but also national security and border security, immigration overall.
Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams will deliver the Democratic response to the president’s speech. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called her the perfect person for the job.
SCHUMER: She’s led the charge for voting rights, which is at the root of just about everything else. And she really has, if you look at her background, she knows what working people, middle class people, go through.
Abrams lost a tight race in November to Republican Brian Kemp. If she had won, she would have been the nation’s first African-American female governor.
Fellow Georgians John Lewis and Hank Johnson are among four House lawmakers who have said they plan to skip tonight’s speech. Fourteen House Democrats boycotted last year’s State of the Union.
Democrat blocks abortion survivors bill » Senator Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, killed a bill Monday that would have required abortionists to provide life-saving care to babies born alive during attempted abortions. Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, had asked for a unanimous consent vote on the measure. Murray objected, blocking the vote.
Sasse brought the measure forward in response to a new abortion law in New York and proposed legislation in Virginia. Both bills allow abortion right up to the moment of birth.
SASSE: Let’s be really clear about what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about fourth trimester abortion—or what anyone in the normal world calls infanticide.
Sasse’s bill aimed to build on the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002—which did pass with unanimous consent.
Sasse plans to ask for a roll-call vote on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act soon.
Pentagon deploying troops to southern border » More U.S. troops are headed to the southern border. The Pentagon announced the deployment of about 3,700 service members on Sunday. They will join 600 active-duty troops already in the area.
The troops will build additional wire barriers at the border and install a new system of mobile surveillance and monitoring. The surveillance mission will last through September 30th.
The Pentagon sent the first deployment of active-duty troops to the border at the end of October. They were supposed to come home December 15th, but their mission has been extended twice.
Iraqi leader addresses Trump comments » Iraqi leaders pushed back Monday against President Trump’s plan to increase the U.S. military presence in the country.
Iraqi President Barham Salih said the U.S. has not asked his country’s permission to use it, quote—“as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries.” He said his country has enough to handle already.
During a CBS interview on Sunday, the president said he wanted to fight Islamic militants in Iraq and maximize the opportunity to keep an eye on Iran.
TRUMP: We have an unbelievable and expensive military base built in Iraq. It’s perfectly situated for looking at all over, different parts of the troubled Middle East… If there’s trouble, if somebody’s looking to do nuclear weapons, or other things, we’re going to know it before they do.
On Monday, Jawad al-Musawi, a member of Iraq’s parliament, said President Trump’s statements increased “distrust of the American government.” Even if the U.S. insists it wants to protect Iraq from ISIS, al-Musawi said, quote—“the real reason they will be coming is to hit Iran.”
Venezuelan opposition leader gets more support » Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday that his country will set aside $40 million to help ease Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis.
TRUDEAU: The bulk of the funds will go to trusted partners and neighboring countries to help them support Venezuela and Venezuelans.
Trudeau made the announcement during a meeting of the Lima Group, a consortium of Latin-American countries and Canada. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido also addressed the gathering in a video message.
GUAIDO: [Man speaking in Spanish]
He said Venezuelans are very close to reclaiming their freedom and called for free and fair elections as soon as possible in order to restore democracy to Venezuela.
Nicolas Maduro won reelection as Venezuela’s president in 2018, but outside observers widely rejected the result as neither free nor fair.
Guaido is president of Venezuela’s National Assembly. Last month, he declared himself interim president—as allowed under the country’s constitution in case of an invalid presidential election. The U.S. and many other nations quickly recognized Guaido as the country’s legitimate leader.
Seven European Union nations gave Maduro until Sunday to call for new elections. At a pro-regime rally, Maduro said he would support new elections, but only for the opposition-controlled national assembly.
Trump nominates Bernhardt for Interior Dept. post » President Trump on Monday announced he will nominate David Bernhardt to head the Department of the Interior. Bernhardt has served as the agency’s acting head since December, when Ryan Zinke resigned amid ethics investigations.
Bernhardt served in the Interior Department during the George W. Bush administration. After that, he worked as a lobbyist and lawyer for oil and gas companies, some of which had regulatory business with the agency.
Democrats have questioned those ties, saying they raise conflict of interest concerns. Republicans say Bernhardt’s work on both sides of the regulatory process will make him a better leader.