President Trump’s agenda will take center stage in Congress next week as lawmakers hear a detailed pitch for his 2018 agenda and more specifics about his infrastructure and immigration proposals.
Trump will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday at his first official State of the Union Address.
The speech will come a day after Trump sends Congress a formal proposal to both reform immigration and protect the so-called "Dreamers." Lawmakers received an outline late last week and are eager to learn more about the plan, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, while curbing chain migration, and ending the visa lottery system.
After absorbing all the news, House and Senate Republicans will leave town on Wednesday to attend the annual party retreat at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., where they’ll try to come to consensus on how to incorporate Trump's agenda this year.
Before leaving town, the Senate will hold a vote to advance the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would prohibit elective abortion beyond 20 weeks gestation.
The House passed the measure in October along party lines but in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed to advance a bill, Democrats have the power to block it and it is likely they will.
The vote, however, could put political pressure on Senate Democrats running for re-election this year in states where Trump won substantially.
“The United States is currently one of just seven countries, including China and North Korea, that permits elective abortion after 20 weeks,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “It is time we begin to remedy this obvious and tragic moral wrong. This long-overdue legislation would do just that.”
Lawmakers will also continue negotiations on a deal to raise federal spending caps and fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. The spending bill is loosely linked to passing a deal to protect the Dreamers and reform immigration. Senators have been negotiating to produce their own legislation, independent of the president's plan, although his proposal will likely become part of the talks.
Congressional lawmakers are eager to hear from Trump on several key issues.
In addition to immigration and infrastructure, many senators and House members want the president in his Tuesday speech to address the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic.
“I hope he talks about the opioid crisis,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said. “This is really devastating to so many communities.”
Other Republicans said Trump should tout his first-year record, which the GOP and others say has bolstered the economy and made historic changes to the courts.
“We’ve seen regulatory reform, reducing the burdens on small business,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. “We’ve seen the Obamacare individual mandate repealed, and we have set historic records on judicial confirmations. I hope the president lays out that record of achievement that we all worked so hard to achieve.”
Cruz said Trump should also outline an agenda that will continue to bolster the economy and jobs.
Most lawmakers expect immigration reform to be a central part of the speech.
The reception to the outline released last week has been mixed so far in Congress. Key conservatives including Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., said they support for the proposal, along with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and McConnell.
Democrats are unenthusiastic.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Trump’s proposal to limit chain migration and end the visa lottery “a tool to tear apart our legal immigration system and adopt the wish list that anti-immigration hardliners have advocated for for years.”