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President Trump recently delivered his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Our Constitution requires the president to provide Congress with an update on the state of our union each year. Throughout our history, some presidents have opted to deliver their messages in person and others have sent in written messages. However, for the past 100 years, it has become the norm for presidents to deliver the message in person. I appreciated hearing from President Trump about his vision for the country, especially his message that we can accomplish much more if we work together.

In his address, the president called on Congress to set aside differences and work in a bipartisan manner to tackle the tough issues before us. I wholeheartedly agree. We can be principled in our beliefs while also working with those who may have different opinions than we do. Our founding fathers would never have been able to write the Constitution if they refused to indulge the views and opinions of their colleagues. It’s important we remember much more unites us than divides us as Americans. All of us want to make our country safer, freer and more prosperous for future generations.

As the president said in his State of the Union address, we should continue to focus on the future. We can do this by enacting policies that further grow our economy and strengthen national security--which includes border security. We must also work to make sure all Americans have access to affordable health care and prescription drugs.

In South Dakota, agriculture is our state’s economic engine. We will continue working to open new markets for our products through strong, fair trade agreements. Improving our country’s aging infrastructure system and addressing the student loan debt crisis are two other areas where I believe we can find bipartisan solutions.

I thank the president for prioritizing these important issues in his annual address to Congress and the nation. 

We are currently in a situation where we have a divided government—Republicans control the Senate and the White House, and Democrats control the House of Representatives. That doesn’t mean we can’t accomplish meaningful changes for the American people.  It may not be easy, but all of us were elected to make changes. That means working together for the betterment of the country, not by abandoning our principles, but by building consensus to move our country forward.

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Mike Rounds represents South Dakota in the U.S. Senate.

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