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New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Previews Tonight’s State Of The Union

Donald Trump at the Flynn Theatre
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Tonight will be a spectacle in Washington. One day before a final vote on President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, government leaders will gather under one roof for the Republican’s State of the Union address. The speech will be heard live on WAMC at 9 p.m. Before that, New York U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand shared what she hopes to hear tonight.

The embattled president’s speech, which comes as the presidential race heats up, is themed "The Great American Comeback.”   "President Trump and I have very different visions for our country's future and divergent perspectives on his performance," said Gillibrand, a Democrat, who notes although she and the president don't see eye-to-eye, the two share some of her priorities for the nation which are bi-partisan by nature.   "Investing in our infrastructure, doing something meaningful about global climate change. I don't think President Trump cares about global climate change. But maybe we can find some common ground on infrastructure. That's a place where I would hope Mitch McConnell will let us legislate on. But again, President Trump has not shown that he's willing to work on a bipartisan basis. Up until now."

A Gallup Poll out Tuesday shows Trump's job approval rating has risen to 49%, his highest rating since he took office in 2017.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Credit Pat Bradley/WAMC

Gillibrand believes the president’s pro-military stance could work in her favor.   "We might be able to find some bipartisanship on burn pits. Some of our veterans legislation could be bipartisan and some supported by the president. So, he did sign my blue water Navy veterans bill so maybe he would also sign my burn pit bill."

Gillibrand's bill would make exposure to burn pits in war zones a disability, allowing returning veterans to get help.

Other topics Trump is expected to address include lowering health care costs, national security and immigration. Gillibrand argues in favor of establishing sanctuary cities.   "Because New York is still the number one terror target in the country, it's very helpful to our FBI, CIA and NYPD that there are no communities off limits for where they can go for intelligence, for support, and for fighting crime and terrorism. So the benefit of being a sanctuary city is that more communities participate with law enforcement to protect our city and our state and our country. Our work, NYPD efforts and the collaboration between NYPD and the FBI and CIA has resulted in at least two dozen terror attacks being prevented. So we need to keep our city and state safe. And law enforcement has said having that status is very effective."

Trump has bitterly opposed sanctuary cities. The Gallup poll found the American public evenly divided on the question of whether Trump deserves to be elected to a second term.


Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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