Congress

Who won’t be at Trump’s State of the Union address

At least 4 are standing the president up, others will wear white to promote a ‘pro-woman’ agenda

Georgia Democratic Rep. John Lewis is one of at least four Democratic lawmakers to skip President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address tonight. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At least four Democrats have openly announced they’re playing hooky for President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address tonight.

Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Hank Johnson, Steve Cohen, and John Lewis will not attend the address, Trump’s third speech to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol.

“The thought of spending Tuesday night in the House Chamber listening to the reckless, self-centered man who occupies the White House holds no interest for me,” Blumenauer said in a statement.

The Oregon Democrat skipped last year’s SOTU and Trump’s first address to a joint session in 2017.

“Just like in past years, I plan to skip a speech that will be filled with lies, deception and divisiveness,” Blumenauer said.

State of the Union: A brief history

Johnson and Lewis, who both hail from Georgia, will likewise not attend Trump’s speech.

Johnson, who recently stepped in a PR puddle when he compared Trump to Adolf Hitler, will instead watch the address at one of former Georgia Democratic governor candidate Stacey Abrams’ watch parties that she is hosting in Georgia and key early 2020 primary voting states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.

“I have a problem with defiling the Speaker’s chair in the House of Representatives,” Johnson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I don’t want to see it lowered, as is what happens when Donald Trump comes to our floor and starts talking about groups of people, particularly Latinos, and disparaging them as a people.”

Lewis has not announced his final plans for the speech. The civil rights leader was one of the most high-profile lawmakers to skip Trump’s first State of the Union address last year.

Cohen, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee and has called for Trump’s impeachment, is another repeat boycotter of the president’s speech.

“I’ll come to the House Chamber for the State of the Union when I can hear from a president who will tell the #Truth,” Cohen tweeted Monday afternoon.

Last year, a dozen Democrats skipped the State of the Union, citing Trump’s vulgarity, especially comments deemed hostile to nonwhite people.

In January 2018, Trump criticized Haiti and called some African nations “shithole countries” in a meeting with lawmakers about immigration.

Other Democratic lawmakers plan to demonstrate at the SOTU address in other ways. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers will wear all white to promote a “positive agenda, emphasizing economic security for women and their families,” Florida Rep. Lois Frankel told Roll Call.

The color white is closely tied to the suffragette movement, Frankel said, explaining Democrats’ fashion choice for Tuesday’s speech.

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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