President Trump Addresses a Joint Session of Congress: A Call for 'Direct, Robust, and Meaningful Engagement with the World'

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President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

President Trump Addresses a Joint Session of Congress: A Call for 'Direct, Robust, and Meaningful Engagement with the World'

On February 28, 2017, President Donald J. Trump addressed a Joint Session of Congress -- his first such address since taking office. In his remarks, President Trump underscored progress his Administration has made, including on several foreign policy challenges, and outlined his vision for the United States’ leadership in the global arena.

President Trump addresses a joint session of Congress while Vice President Pence and House Speaker Ryan listen behind him.

The President discussed his obligation to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States by taking strong measures to protect our nation from radical Islamic terrorism. Citing examples of terrorist attacks that have occurred both abroad and at home, the President stated, “It is not compassionate, but reckless to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values. We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America. We cannot allow our nation to become a sanctuary for extremists. That is why my administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our nation safe and to keep out those out who will do us harm.”

The President went on to outline other actions his Administration will take to fight terrorism. “As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS -- a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, and women, and children of all faiths and all beliefs.  We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.” The President added that he has imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran's ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.

During his address, President Trump shared a vision for U.S. global leadership affirming that “our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust, and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.”

President Trump reaffirmed the United States’ support for NATO hailing the organization “an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.” The President highlighted the need for our partners to meet their financial obligations in support of the alliance and noted that as a result of strong and frank discussions they are beginning to do so. “We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or in the Pacific -- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost,” he said.

President Trump went on to underscore the critical need to place the interests of the United States first, while recognizing that America is better off when there is less conflict. 

President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of Congress in Washington, D.C.

To this end he urged, “We must learn from the mistakes of the past -- we have seen the war and destruction that have raged across our world. The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding. America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace, wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.”

Concluding his remarks, President Trump called on all citizens to embrace this renewal of the American spirit and declared with optimism, “From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears; inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past; and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.” 

Editor's Note: This entry is also published on Medium.com/StateDept.

For more information:

  • Read President Trump’s full remarks to a joint session of Congress.
  • Watch the full video of President Trump’s remarks to a joint session of Congress.
  • Read U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's statement on the President's speech to a joint session of Congress.