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Vox Sentences: What to expect from the State of the Union

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A look ahead at President Trump’s State of the Union; the Taliban attacks in Afghanistan amid peace talks.

President Trump to address a stalemated Congress

Trump at State of Union in 2018 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • President Trump gives his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at 9 pm Eastern. The speech comes a week later than originally planned, as Democrats and Republicans try to pass a deal on a government funding bill, border security, and immigration in order to avoid another government shutdown. [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • Immigration issues are likely to be a big focus of Trump’s speech. He may reiterate the need for a wall on the US-Mexico border, for which he is demanding $5.7 billion from Congress and threatening to use executive power if he doesn’t get the money. [NYT / Michael Tackett]
  • The White House is claiming Trump will try to take a bipartisan approach to issues like health care, national security, and prescription drugs. He’s also expected to roll out a 10-year plan to reduce rates of HIV. [Washington Post / Paige Winfield Cunningham]
  • A majority Democratic House will be Trump’s audience — so don’t expect a lot of clapping. He’s also expected to discuss anti-abortion legislation, why he’s pulling troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, infrastructure goals, and the tax cuts, which aren’t very popular among liberals. [CNN / Jeremy Diamond and Betsy Klein]
  • A lot of guests will be in the room too. The Trumps invited 13 people to the address, including the family of a couple killed by an illegal immigrant, a woman who struggled with opioid addiction, and a sixth-grader who was bullied for having the same last name as the president. [Vox / Jen Kirby]
  • Stacey Abrams will give the Democratic response. She lost the Georgia gubernatorial election last fall but has become a star in her party. She is the first black woman to give the official response to the State of the Union. [NPR / Emma Hurt]
  • Trump is not expected to mention climate change, despite evidence of rising average temperatures and their costs — and even though states that voted for him have been some of the most affected areas. [Vox / Umair Irfan]

Taliban talks peace, claims violent attack

  • At least 26 Afghan security force members were killed in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on Tuesday; the Taliban claimed responsibility. The attack comes as President Trump has been celebrating peace talks with the extremist group and a conference between Afghan delegates and Taliban representatives occurs in Moscow. [Associated Press]
  • The attack contradicts Trump’s optimistic message that the Taliban has given up and opted for peace talks to end an 18-year war. The reality is quite the opposite — 40 percent of Afghanistan is controlled by the Taliban, and America’s impending withdrawal could give the group more leeway. [Vox / Alex Ward]
  • The Afghan delegation meeting in Moscow consisted largely of former officials, including former President Hamid Karzai. The current American-backed president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, was absent, sparking criticism that the meeting couldn’t result in legal measures without input from the acting government. [NYT / Andrew Higgins and Mujib Mashal]
  • The conference helped Russia’s image as the wager of world peace and let the Taliban voice its platform to an Afghan audience. Only two women were included in the meeting. [NYT / Andrew Higgins and Mujib Mashal]
  • Last month, US and Taliban representatives met in Doha, Qatar, to discuss a peace plan. The group agreed that no terrorist organization would use Afghan soil as long as America promised to pull out its forces. The Taliban will meet again with the US on February 25. [Al Jazeera]


  • President Trump’s inaugural committee received a subpoena on Monday requesting documents relating to donors and spending. The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York opened a criminal investigation last year into how the committee raised and spent more than $100 million. [WSJ / Rebecca Ballhaus and Rebecca Davis O’Brien]
  • About 800,000 UK citizens who live across Europe will need to rely on national governments if there’s no Brexit deal. Here are each of the 27 EU nations’ plans — or lack thereof — for UK citizens within in their territory. [Politico Europe / Eline Schaart]
  • Rescue workers are still recovering bodies following a dam bursting in Brumadinho, Brazil, last month. A video shows the moment the disaster began. [WSJ / Samantha Pearson and Luciana Magalhaes]
  • The new World Bank president may be skeptical of the institution. President Trump has picked David Malpass, an official from the Treasury Department, who has been critical of the institution in the past. Although the US historically selects the bank’s president, nominations for the position are open until March 14. [Politico / Victoria Guida and Ben White]
  • Airbnb contributes to rising home prices but is escaping regulations. A new study finds that renting units strains a small supply and drives up costs. [CityLab / Sarah Holder]


“It is most certainly not easy for you to live far from home, missing the affection of your loved ones, and perhaps also feeling uncertainty about the future, but the Lord is faithful and does not abandon his people.” [Pope Francis in a Mass to millions of migrants held in Abu Dhabi, via NYT]

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President Trump delivers his second State of the Union tonight, but how’s the world doing? Believe it or not, Vox’s Dylan Matthews says things are getting much, much better. [Art19]

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