Tonight marks President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address, and while all eyes will be on Washington, some lawmakers have decided to opt out of attending the president’s speech in order to make a bigger statement on their feelings on the oft-maligned pres’s first year in office.
Although there have been calls for Democrats to wear black to tonight’s event (in solidarity with Hollywood’s Time’s Up movement), some party members are opting out entirely, creating their own protest against the Oval Office and administration. These are the lawmakers who have announced they will be boycotting tonight’s speech.
California Representative Maxine Waters is continuing to reclaim her time by not only boycotting tonight’s speech, but also giving her official rebuttal for the folks at BET. Although the Dems have officially tapped the next generation Kennedy prodigy, Joe Kennedy Jr. to give the party’s official rebuttal, Waters’ take will be 100 percent fire and will probably be the most gifable part of tonight’s addresses.
Representative John Lewis from Georgia walked with Martin Luther King Jr. to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, but won’t be walking into the House for tonight’s address. Of his choice, he told Daily Kos, “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.”
Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon was one of the first to announce his boycott back on January 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.”
Last week, the representative announced he would be sending DREAMER Aldo Solano in his place.
Representative Fredrica Wilson told constituents in Florida that she would not be attending the SOTU for the first time in her career. “I have no doubt that instead of delivering a message of inclusivity and an agenda that benefits all Americans,” she said. “President Trump’s address will be full of innuendo, empty promises, and lies.”
Representative Gregory Meeks made his announcement over the weekend, saying the president doesn’t “respect me or the communities I represent,” which made his decision to boycott decision clear.
Washington State Representative Pramila Jayapal called out “racism” as the reason for her decision to boycott the SOTU, and announced a plan to focus on her home state by working in opposition to the federal administration and lifting up a progressive agenda.
Representative Albio Sires, a New Jersey rep and Cuban immigrant, announced his boycott by tweeting, “It is disgusting that the President of the United States has no regard for American values or the immigrant experience. His comments are downright insulting to countless American families like mine and others in the 8th District, who have worked hard to build new lives in the US.”
Representative Bobby Rush of Illinois announced he would skip the event with a scathing statement in which he called out the president and the entire Republican party. “Trump does not respect the office, our long-standing institutions, traditions, and many of our citizens, who he has repeatedly insulted. We are watching the presidency erode before our eyes and I, for one, refuse to participate in pomp and circumstance that does nothing but normalize his egregious and hateful behavior,” his statement said in part.
Representative Danny K. Davis, also of Illinois, won’t be attending either, saying he’d be meeting with constituents instead.
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky released a statement announcing her boycott over the weekend, saying, “I will be boycotting President Trump’s State of the Union this year because I refuse to normalize President Donald Trump and his loathsome language and actions. The American people have been subjected to a year of racist, erratic, and divisive behavior from their Commander in Chief, and I refuse to accept that as the new normal.”
Congressman Juan Vargas says he will not be present tonight because he doesn’t want to be “two-faced.” The congressman added that he’d be happy to attend if the president began acting in what Vargas believes is a more presidential manner.
California Representative Barbara Lee will also skip the event, saying she feels the Oval Office has been “dishonored.”
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(Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)