President Donald Trump vowed in his State of the Union address Tuesday to "never let socialism destroy American healthcare."
He also vowed to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, but stop providing "unlimited free healthcare to illegal aliens."
"A good life for American families also requires the most affordable innovative and high-quality health care system on Earth," he said. "Before I took office, health insurance premiums had more than doubled in just five years. I moved quickly to provide affordable alternatives. Our new plans are up to 60% less expensive and better."
But Trump said that while his plan will save families massive amounts of money for substantially better care, "There are those who want to take away your health care, take away your doctor, and abolish private insurance entirely."
He added, "A hundred and thirty-two lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our health care system, wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans. To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know we will never let socialism destroy American health care."
Republicans cheered, while many Democrats stood and jeered.
"And we will always protect your Medicare and we will always protect your Social Security, always," Trump said.
As Trump entered the chamber he was met with chants of "Four more years!" by Republicans He proclaimed "Americas enemies are on the run" and "the years of economic decay are over."
Trump touted record job growth for minorities and low-income workers, as well as good economic numbers overall.
"This is a blue-collar boom," Trump said.
He also noted the stock market boom and how it has aided those with 401(k)s.
Trump noted that unlike the two administrations that preceded him, he successfully renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement to make it more fair to the United States.
"I keep my promises. We did our job," he said.
Democrats remained seated during most of the early applause lines except when Trump touted the bipartisan work at bipartisan criminal justice reform.
They stood again, when Trump made a surprise announcement that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó was in the audience. The United States recognizes Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela.
Guaidó was not the only surprise in the gallery. He also surprised a military family by reuniting them with their husband and father, announced a young girl would be getting a scholarship to attend the school of her choice, and recognized a 100-year-old Tuskegee airman whom he earlier in the day promoted to brigadier general.
And he had first lady Melania Trump put the Medal of Freedom on conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who announced just a day earlier he was in late-stage lung cancer.
Trump vowed to restore prayer to public schools, appoint more conservative justices to the Supreme Court and protect the gun rights.
Trump took the advice of aides and fellow Republicans and avoid the subject of impeachment just one day before the Senate votes on charges against him.
Seeing U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the first time since she stormed out of a White House meeting four months ago, he declined to shake her outstretched hand as he gave her a copy of the speech.
Pelosi appeared to be taken aback. She and Trump have not spoken since their October meeting, both sides said.
Democrats sat silently and some could be seen shaking their heads as Trump declared, "The state of our union is stronger than ever before."
Pelosi, who dropped her opposition to impeachment and allowed Democratic lawmakers to seek impeachment charges against him, sat stoically and grim-faced behind Trump and paged through a written copy of his speech. She appeared to rip her copy of Trump's speech in half at the conclusion of his remarks.
Trump presented himself as a big improvement over Democratic President Barack Obama, whom he succeed three years ago.
"In just three short years we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America's destiny," he said. The House impeachment managers, who are acting as prosecutors in the Senate impeachment trial, were seated together at the front of the Democrats' section.
Many House Democratic women wore white for a second year in a row, a sign of the suffragist movement that won women the right to vote 100 years ago. Several Democratic lawmakers refused to attend the annual speech to protest Trump.
Trump offered an upbeat portrayal of his presidency in hopes of persuading Americans to give him another four-year term in the Nov. 3 election.
"In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American Decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!" Trump said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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