Who’s Boycotting The State Of The Union? These Democrats Will Sit This One Out
When Donald Trump gives his first State of the Union address, it turns out that he won't have all of the members of Congress — or even the Supreme Court —present. So far, thirteen Democratic congresspeople and one justice have announced that they have chosen not to attend. People who are boycotting the State of the Union all have their own specific reasons for doing so, but the overarching theme of their protests is that they feel that they cannot support various statements that the president has made or policies that he's supported. Some simply made other plans.
This isn't the first time that Democratic congresspeople have boycotted a major Trump event; dozens of Democratic members of the House chose not to attend Trump's inauguration, particularly after Trump made a disparaging remark towards civil rights leader and congressman John Lewis. This time, while fewer members of the House will be skipping the event, several of them have cited Trump's disparaging and vulgar comment about "shithole countries" as a reason why they will not be in attendance.
Members of Congress are free to attend or not attend as they see fit, but the decisions to boycott have drawn criticism as being overly divisive. The congresspeople in question, however, evidently see their presence as a measure of support too strong for them to express. Here are the Congress members who have chosen to boycott the State of the Union.
1. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR
Rep. Blumenauer announced that he would boycott the State of the Union in a statement on Jan. 5, saying:
Rather than listening to yet another destructive and divisive speech by Trump, I will not attend this year’s annual address to Congress. Instead, like I did during Trump’s Inauguration, I will be working here at home listening to Oregonians about what they think about the State of the Union. Hearing from Oregonians and working together to protect our values and advance policies that actually strengthen our communities is a more productive use of my time.
Later, on Twitter, Rep. Blumenauer announced that he would send Dreamer Aldo Solano in his place.
2. Rep. John Lewis, D-GA
Rep. Lewis cited President Trump's vulgar comment referring to various countries as "shithole countries" as the reason why he would not be attending the speech. "At this junction, I do not plan to attend the State of the Union. I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans. I just cannot do it. I wouldn't be honest with myself," Rep. Lewis told MSNBC.
3. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-CA
Not only will Rep. Waters be boycotting the State of the Union — she'll also be giving her own rebuttal to it on a special program on BET immediately following the address.
4. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-FL
Rep. Wilson did not hold back in her statement announcing her decision to boycott the speech, saying that the speech would be "full of innuendo, empty promises, and lies" and that "it would be an embarrassment to be seen with him at a forum that under any other president would be an honor to attend."
5. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-WA
Rep. Jayapal made her announcement on Twitter, basing her decision on "all the racism coming from the White House."
6. Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-NY
Rep. Meeks made his announcement only two days before the State of the Union, telling MSNBC that “I cannot give this man, who does not respect me, the respect to be in that audience. I will not be there.”
Rep. Meeks also happens to represent Trump's home district of Queens.
7. Rep. Albio Sires, D-NJ
Rep. Sires, who a Cuban immigrant, also cited Trump's vulgar comments as the reason behind his decision. He said that the comment was "disgusting" and that "Trump's vulgar language is just another example of his disregard for hardworking Americans that come from all walks of life."
8. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-IL
Rep. Schakowsky released a statement on Jan. 26 saying that she would boycott Trump's first State of the Union, calling his speech and actions "loathsome."
"I refuse to sit on the floor of the House of Representatives and politely clap for a man who has demonstrated such clear contempt for so many segments of the American population," Rep. Schakowsky wrote in her statement.
9. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-IL
On Jan. 29, Rep. Rush released a statement indicating his plan to sit out on Trump's inaugural SOTU, eviscerating the president in the process.
"This has been the most chaotic, divisive, and incompetent first year of any administration...Trump does not respect the office, our long standing institutions, traditions, and many of our citizens, who he has repeatedly insulted...This is a presidency that has been built on racism, stupidity, and lies, which has already wasted enough of America’s time and I will not waste any more of mine.”
10. Rep. Danny Davis, D-IL
According to The Chicago Sun Times, Rep. Davis will be in Chicago during Trump's SOTU. He reportedly plans on viewing Rep. Kennedy's Democratic response to the SOTU.
"I cannot in good conscience stand silently by and watch generations of struggle for equal rights, for civil, human and voting rights, for the rights of women, for social and economic justice be undone from the highest office in the land," Davis said in a statement. "Therefore, during the President’s 2018 State of the Union Address, I will be in Chicago meeting with constituents from the 7th Congressional District to explore the Peoples’ State of the Union."
11. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-CA
According to KQED Public Radio, California Rep. Lee elected not to attend Trump's first SOTU weeks in advance. Rep. Lee has been an outspoken critic of the president.
12. Rep. Juan Vargas, D-CA
In an interview with KPBS, Rep. Vargas said that he won't attend the speech Tuesday because he doesn't want to pretend to support Trump.
"I don't want to pretend in anyway that I support this president," he said. "I don't want to be two faced. I'd like to, if he started acting presidential. I'd be happy to go again, but I'm not going to do that until he starts acting presidential, respecting women, respecting people of color and immigrants."
While most lawmakers are choosing to attend Tuesday's SOTU, that doesn't mean that their presence will be without protest. Some officials have chosen to use their allotted guest seat to make a political statement in lieu of boycotting. Present or absent, Democrats by and large plan to use the event as an opportunity to send Trump a message — they are not happy and they won't sit idly by.
Monica Busch contributed to this article.