Donald Trump

Read the SCMP’s live coverage of how Donald Trump’s first speech to US Congress unfolded

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 9:45am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2017, 11:23am

Welcome to the South China Morning Post’s live coverage of US President Donald Trump’s first speech to Congress.

Trump called for lawmakers of both sides to put aside “trivial fights” - but earned big groans for his call to create an initiative against crimes committed by illegal immigrants.

WATCH: Trump’s first speech to Congress

The president also pushed for major infrastructure spending and reiterated his campaign pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare.

But the biggest applause of the night didn’t go to Trump, but to the widow of a Navy SEAL killed during a much-criticised US raid in Yemen in January.

All times are Eastern time, followed by Hong Kong time.


10.10pm ET (11.10am HK Time): It’s all over, after almost exactly one hour, with the traditional “thank you,God bless you and God bless the United States of America”. Trump quickly makes his way down onto the floor, where he’s greeted by lawmakers.

10.09pm ET (11.09am HK Time): “We all are made by the same God.”

10.08pm ET (11.08am HK Time): Trump sets his sights on the 250th birthday of the US in 2026.

10.05pm ET (11.05am HK Time): The only answer to the global refugee crises is creating the conditions under which they can return home, says Trump.

10.02pm ET (11.02am HK Time): Trump pays tribute to the Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens who was killed in a US raid in Yemen in January. But Trump seeks to reframe the much-criticised mission as a “highly successful raid”, saying Ryan’s legacy “is etched into eternity”. What goes unsaid is that Ryan’s father has refused to meet Trump and called for an investigation into the raid. The longest applause of the evening goes to tearful widow Carryn Owens. “As the Bible teaches us there is no greater act of love than to lay one’s life down for one’s friends,” says Trump.

9.55pm ET (10.55am HK Time): Audible groans now as Trump announces an initiative to target crime by illegal immigrants. He calls it VOICE, the “Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement”. Trump now introduces victims of crime by illegal immigrants. A key moment in the speech.

9.53pm ET (10.47am HK Time): “Education is the civil rights of our time,” says Trump, before he segues into the familiar territory of inner-city violence. “We must work with - not against - the men and women of law-enforcement,” he says, condemning the alternative of “pure unadulterated division”.

9.49pm ET (10.49am HK Time): On rare-disease day, Trump introduces “incredible young woman” Megan Crowley, a survivor of Pompe disease. Her father set up a pharma company that helped save her life; by slashing restrictions on medical research more stories like this can be told, Trump says.

9.47pm ET (10.47am HK Time): A big nod to Ivanka Trump’s pet projects. Trump now calls for paid family leave and investing in women’s health.

9.45pm ET (10.45am HK Time): The big call for unity...“Everything that is broken can be fixed. Every problem can be solved...why not join forces and finally get the job done and get it done right?”

9.41pm ET (10.41am HK Time): The longest Republican cheers of the night as Trump reiterates his pledge to “repeal and replace Obamacare”. This is red meat, but there’s a challenge in meeting the twin promises of reducing costs while improving care and making sure “no one is left out”. “Obamacare is collapsing and we must act decisively to protect all Americans.” It’s an “imploding Obamacare disaster”, Trump says. Drug costs are artificially high, he says.

9.39pm ET (10.39am HK Time): Trump says US$6 trillion has been “wasted” fighting in the Middle East. Instead, that would have been better spent on US infrastructure, Trump says, as he proposes spending domestically that would create millions of new jobs. “Buy American and hire American.”

9.37pm ET (10.37am HK Time): Back to immigration. Trump cites and praises other nations’ (Canada and Australia) “merit-based” immigration systems. He says that basing immigration on the “well-being of American citizens” is his priority, again calling for bipartisan support.

9.33pm ET (10.33am HK Time): Chuckles as Trump refers to his alliterative admiration for the “magnificent motorcycles” of Harley-Davidson. “They asked me to ride one, but I said no.”

9.30pm ET (10.30am HK Time): Cheers for some boilerplate China-bashing. “We’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001,” says Trump. He calls on bipartisan support for “restarting the engine” of the US economy, and making it “much, much harder” for companies to leave the US.

9.27pm ET (10.27am HK Time): A catchphrase moment as Trump condemns ISIS as “a network of lawless savages”, pledging to “eliminate this vile enemy from our planet”.

9.25pm ET (10.25am HK Time): Onto immigration. By cracking down on “lawless chaos” on the southern border, he will raise wages, save billions, and make US communities safer. He promises “soon” to begin construction of a “great, great wall”. “Bad ones are going out as I speak”. Trump then enunciates a crackdown on “Radical. Islamic. Terrorism”. It is reckless, Trump says, to allow uncontrolled immigration from countries where vetting cannot occur. “We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside our country”.

9.22m ET (10.22am HK Time): The “job-killing” Trans-Pacific Partnership is dead, he says to big cheers, giving a shout-out to Justin Trudeau, PM of Canada.

9.21pm ET (10.21am HK Time): He’s now talking about reducing red tape (“For every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated”)

9.19pm ET (10.19am HK Time): Trump says he’s going to update on his goals, and reels off a list of firms he says are now creating tens of thousands of new US jobs. The stock market is up US$3 trillion, he says, and he’s started to “drain the swamp” of Washington. That line gets laughter, then applause

9.15pm ET (10.15am HK Time): “We’ve defended other nation’s borders” while leaving US border unguarded, allowing drugs to “pour in at an unprecedented rate”.

9.10pm ET (10.10am HK Time): Huge cheers for Melania Trump. Trump opens with a tribute to Black History Month, earning big bipartisan applause. He’s now talking about threats to the Jewish community, and the shooting of two Indians in Kansas City. “We condemn hate and evil in all its very ugly forms”.

9.09pm ET (10.09am HK Time): Speaker Paul Ryan says it’s his honour to introduce Trump

9.05pm ET (10.05am HK Time): Donald Trump makes his entrance, followed by his VP Mike Pence and Republican congressional leaders. He has foregone his signature Republican red tie for a dark and subdued striped number.

8.58pm ET (9.58am HK Time): Cheers for First Lady Melania Trump, and members of the Trump cabinet, making their way down the aisles.