President Donald Trump vowed in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to build a border wall that is a source of a deep partisan divide and said Democratic attempts at "ridiculous partisan investigations" could damage U.S. prosperity. Trump spoke in the chamber of the House of Representatives facing political discord over his demands that Democrats end their opposition to funding for a border wall he says is needed to stem illegal immigration and smuggled drugs. He called illegal immigration "an urgent national crisis," but stopped short of declaring a border emergency that would allow him to bypass Congress for wall funding. Instead, he urged Democrats and Republicans to find a compromise by a Feb. 15 deadline.
"In the past, most of the people in this room voted for a wall, but the proper wall never got built. I will get it built," Trump said in the highly anticipated speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress, with his main Democratic adversary, new House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, watching over his shoulder. Democrats call the wall a waste of money and ineffective. At the same time, Trump warned that Democratic efforts to investigate his administration, along with the possibility of U.S. involvement in wars abroad, would endanger the U.S.
His remarks came as Democrats who now control the House planned a series of probes into the Trump administration and a special prosecutor investigates Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow. Russia denies meddling and Trump has said there was no collusion. Apart from lauding economic accomplishments - unemployment near a five-decade low and manufacturing job growth among them - Trump's speech was light on new initiatives to further stoke growth in an economy seen as losing momentum as it began 2019. A Reuters poll last month forecast economic growth would slow to 2.1 percent this year after likely averaging around 3 percent in 2018.