Ohio lawmakers hope for unifying tone in State of the Union address


    FILE- In this Jan. 30, 2018, file photo President Donald Trump walks into the House Chamber as he arrives for his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. The State of the Union address puts the president, his Cabinet, members of Congress, military leaders, top diplomats and Supreme Court justices all in the same place at the same time for all the world to see. Protecting everyone requires months of planning and coordination involving multiple law enforcement agencies, led by the U.S. Secret Service. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

    President Trump will be giving the State of the Union address Tuesday night just days away from another potential government shutdown. He will be addressing a joint session of Congress for the first time since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives.

    The speech will be full of pomp and ceremony but could also be an opportunity for the president to speak directly to the American people.

    “It’s useful because the president can actually reset this tone of anger and bitterness and divisiveness," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D - Ohio.

    Brown, like most lawmakers, will bring a guest to the speech to prove a point. His guest will be Rita Lewis whose late husband is the namesake for Brown's bill funding many union pension plans.

    “This is a reminder to everyone who has had their pension compromised that we’re going to keep fighting," he said.

    Republican Rep. Steve Stivers will be bringing the new director of the Ohio Department of Veterans Services, Major General Deborah Ashenhurst as his guest.

    “I’m hoping any presence in the chamber of our military members or me representing the 800,000 veterans of Ohio serves as a reminder that our veterans are in every community," Ashenhurst said.

    Stivers said the speech was an opportunity for President Trump to lead Congress as it tries to avoid another shutdown.

    “I hope the president will take a conciliatory tone and recognize he may not get everything he wants and frankly he shouldn’t get nothing he wants," Stivers said. "This needs to be people coming together.”

    Ohio State Political Science Professor Paul Beck said the State of the Union typically will be the largest TV audience a president will get all year.

    “He can really speak to ‘the country’ in a way he can’t at his rallies, that he can’t when he occasionally has a news conference or speaks to the press," Beck said. “In a polarized country, and we are deeply polarized as a country, the response will be predictable. Republicans will like it. Democrats will not.”

    The federal government is funded until February 15th, giving lawmakers only a few more days to reach an agreement, vote on it and have it signed into law in time to avoid another shutdown.

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