Tonight's State of the Union address is one of the last chances President George W. Bush will have to frame his eight-year presidency.
A person familiar with the president's thinking said Bush is "fired up" going into the speech and plans to attempt to reassure Americans who are nervous about the economy. While he will acknowledge uncertainty in the economy, the president is expected to dismiss claims that the nation is in a recession.
The president will urge Congress to pass a bipartisan $150 billion economic stimulus package. The legislation, which Democratic leaders have agreed to, would distribute rebate checks of up to $1,200 to 117 million families.
Bush will also remind the nation about improved security in Iraq and attribute the improvement to his plan to build up troops there last year. A senior White House official has told ABC News that the president hopes to have 20,000 troops coming out of Iraq this summer. However, these are not new troops withdrawals, and there would still be 10,000 more troops in Iraq than before the "surge."
Tonight the president also plans to give a "full-throated" appeal to Congress on immigration reform, the source tells ABC News, despite the fact that his immigration reform proposal stalled in Congress last year and isn't expected to be revived. The issue has become a political hot potato in an election year when Republican candidates are running away from Bush's proposal to account for millions of undocumented workers.
The president will argue that reforming the nation's decades-old immigration system is necessary.
Bush will also urge Congress to figure out a way to make progress on another one of his failed priorities: Social Security reform.
He is also expected to press lawmakers to reauthorize a domestic surveillance law that expires Friday.
The president also intends to warn Congress that in his last year in office, he will veto any legislation loaded with so-called "earmarks" or special project spending that members typically slip into bills that Congress has already debated them. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ABOUT POSSIBLE WHITE HOUSE VETOES The "earmarks" have become a common way for members of Congress to funnel federal money into their districts, sometimes creating jobs.
"These earmarks get stuffed into conference reports and never get voted on," complained a source familiar with the president's thinking.
Bush intends to issue an executive order saying he will not abide by any earmarks that are not written into the legislation itself, and debated and voted on in Congress, the source said.
"Last year I asked [Congress] voluntarily to reduce those," Bush told ABC News' Ann Compton earlier today in an exclusive interview in the Oval Office. "This year I am going to veto any bill that doesn't cut them by 50 percent and will issue an executive order tomorrow to make it clear to agencies that money will not be spent unless it's been voted on by the Congress."
Listen to the interview HERE.
The president's final address will also deal heavily with foreign relations, a senior White House official told ABC News.