Donald Trump puts final touches on Congress speech, focusing on economy, defence

US President Donald Trump arrives to speak to members of the National Governors Association and his administration before a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.
US President Donald Trump arrives to speak to members of the National Governors Association and his administration before a meeting in the State Dining Room of the White House on Feb 27, 2017 in Washington, DC.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump was still working on Monday evening (Feb 27) on the final touches of an address to Congress that will focus on economic opportunity and national security, administration officials said.

The officials, who briefed reporters on the eve of the address on the condition of anonymity, said the speech will offer a vision of where Trump wants to take the country as well as an early accounting of campaign promises he has already delivered on through executive actions such as the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

They declined to say whether the president would offer more concrete proposals on major goals, such as rebuilding US infrastructure, rewriting the tax code and replacing the Obamacare health plan.

Trump's speech comes as the new president tries to stabilise his administration after a turbulent start marked by struggles implementing an initial flurry of executive orders and a controversy over contacts between Trump advisers and Russian officials that led to the resignation of his national security adviser.

While Trump's inauguration speech offered a gloomy portrait of an America racked by violence and economic decay, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier on Monday that the address to Congress will strive for an optimistic vision focused on "the renewal of the American spirit."

Surveys show a deep partisan divide over the president's performance. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on Monday showed Trump's approval rating at 44 per cent - a record low for a new president. But 85 per cent of Republicans see Trump favourably, versus just 9 per cent of Democrats.

National security was the key theme of an early glimpse of the budget the White House offered on Monday.

Administration officials said the president's first budget would seek to boost defence spending by US$54 billion (S$76 billion)- offset by an equivalent cut from other discretionary spending.