Jan 29, 2018 - 12:00pm

What We’re Watching: State of the Union 2018


Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer

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Donald Trump 2017 Special Address to Joint Session of Congress
President Trump delivers an address to the first joint session of the 115th Congress in 2017.

Tomorrow, President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union Address, highlighting his administration’s first year of progress and outlining his top priorities for the year ahead. Along with Americans across the country, the U.S. Chamber will be listening intently to the speech to see what the administration aims to achieve this year.

We hope to see President Trump lay out a vision for more pro-growth policies that build upon the economic momentum from last year’s tax reform and successful regulatory rollback. Most importantly, the 2018 agenda should help ensure economic growth is strengthened, sustained, and shared across the country. 

How does our country continue along this pro-growth path? Earlier this month, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue laid out the Chamber’s vision for 2018 and what we hope lawmakers can achieve this year. Here’s what we’re listening for:

First, we must modernize our nation’s infrastructure. As Donohue said, “We cannot build a 21st century economy on 20th century infrastructure.” At a recent summit, Donohue laid out the Chamber’s four-point plan:

  • Increasing the federal fuel user fee by 25 cents
  • Implementing a multi-faceted approach for leveraging more public and private resources
  • Streamlining the permitting process at the federal, state, and local level
  • Expanding the American workforce through work-based learning and immigration reform

As Donohue said at the infrastructure summit, “This is the next great opportunity to do something significant, something long-lasting, and something long overdue, for our nation’s future. And it will benefit all of us.”


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Second, a growing, thriving economy needs qualified workers to get the job done. That means we must act to ensure our workers are ready for 21st century jobs as well as move forward on smart immigration reform.

In his 2018 “State of American Business” address, Donohue said, “The Chamber believes that we need an all-of-the-above approach to address the dual challenge of people without jobs, and jobs without people.”

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On immigration reform, Donohue urged, “A great place to start is by retaining the over 1 million individuals who are currently allowed to work here legally – but are at risk of losing that status.”

We’re calling on Congress to quickly take action to protect the roughly 200,000 TPS beneficiaries, the over 30,000 spouses of high-skilled visa holders, and the some 690,000 Dreamers in our country.

Qualified, talented workers are critical to keep this economy moving. Donohue believes, “The bottom line is that we can’t strengthen and sustain economic growth if we don’t expand and support our workforce.”

Finally, continued economic growth means the U.S. must protect and advocate for free and fair trade. Over 95% of consumers live outside of the United States, so modernizing our current trade agreements – such as NAFTA and KORUS – and seeking new ones is crucial to a successful economy.

On the importance of free and fair trade, Donohue stated, “Trade is how we shape the reality of globalization to benefit American businesses, consumers, and workers. And if we aren’t leading on trade, we’re falling behind.”

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Along with modernizing NAFTA, the U.S. should focus on China’s role in the global economy. The White House is right to focus on China’s policies. And as Donohue urged, “The status quo is not sustainable, but we need a smart approach. We need to work with allies in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere to forge a common response to China’s state capitalism.”

We anticipate another year of working alongside the administration and Congress to address these top issues and to expand growth and opportunity in this country.

Much was achieved last year, and we have a great opportunity to put policies in place to sustain economic growth, job creation, and American prosperity.

Let’s get to work.

About the Author

About the Author

Headshot of Neil Bradley
Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has spent two decades working directly with congressional committee chairpersons and other high-ranking policymakers to achieve solutions.