TEHRAN (defapress) – A number of House Democrats are gearing up to stage protests against US President Donald Trump's State of the Union address once again Tuesday, this time after voting to impeach him.
News ID: 80097
Publish Date: 03February 2020 - 10:53
Female Democrats are reprising their coordinated white outfits to show solidarity with women, and, as in years past, at least a handful of lawmakers are considering or planning to boycott Trump’s speech in the House chamber entirely.
The final vote in the Senate trial to acquit Trump will likely come on Wednesday, the day after his speech, and the lawmakers absent for the address will include some of the earliest and most fervent supporters of impeachment.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who introduced articles of impeachment against Trump in 2017, skipped the last two State of the Union addresses. He told The Hill that he has no intention to “go in a very cold room and hear a bunch of puff and lies.”
Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who forced three House votes on impeachment and has boycotted all of Trump's addresses to Congress to date, said that he was undecided.
“The things that caused me to stay away have not changed,” Green acknowledged. But he said that he has been “encouraged” by a colleague to attend and is weighing his decision.
At least six House Democrats made a point of not attending last year’s State of the Union, while 14 boycotted the address in 2018.
The offices of other Democrats who boycotted Trump’s State of the Union in the last two years — including Reps. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), John Lewis (Ga.), Hank Johnson (Ga.) and Maxine Waters (Calif.) — did not respond when asked if they would attend this time around.
But among those sure to be at the State of the Union, which will also take place a day after the Iowa presidential caucuses, will be the Democrats who oversaw the impeachment inquiry.
Trump will come face-to-face with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the first time since she presided over the House votes to impeach him in December.
A Pelosi spokesman confirmed that the Speaker and the president have not spoken since a disastrous Oct. 16 White House meeting about Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria.
The two sides disagreed over whether Trump called Pelosi a “third-grade” or “third-rate” politician, but Democrats angered by the insult walked out of the meeting.
Pelosi told reporters assembled in the Capitol afterward that Trump had a “very serious meltdown” and that “we have to pray for his health.”
Relations between the two haven’t improved much since then.
Pelosi, who will be seated behind Trump during the address, is likely to be among the female lawmakers wearing white, like last year. A photo of Pelosi clapping with her arms outstretched in response to Trump calling for an end to "revenge politics" went viral last year, which was the first of his term with Democrats controlling the House.
Democratic women — and some men — wore white, the color of suffragettes, at the 2019 State of the Union as well as Trump’s joint address shortly after his inauguration in 2017. They wore black in 2018 in solidarity with the “Me Too” movement rooting out sexual misconduct.
Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.), a co-chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, said she felt it was necessary to send a message from the room to women and her constituents instead of boycotting the address.
“I think it's important to be there. The country is watching,” Frankel said. “I want them to know that we are there and sending the message that we are fighting back and we're fighting for the people.”
Many of the vulnerable Democrats facing tough reelection races this year would rather spotlight campaign issues such as lowering the cost of prescription drugs at the State of the Union as they seek to move on from impeachment.
Rep. Susie Lee (D-Nev.) is bringing a 75-year-old constituent who faced high costs to treat a chronic ear infection, while Reps. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) and Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) have invited guests with diabetes to also draw attention to prescription drug costs.
Freshman Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), meanwhile, is trying to demonstrate bipartisanship the impeachment fever pitch.
Phillips has invited the Republican mayor of Brooklyn Park, a city in his district, to tout their work together on issues such as affordable housing and providing a pathway to citizenship for Liberians with Deferred Enforced Departure status.
“With all the division in politics right now, I believe the cooperation in Brooklyn Park sends a powerful message on what we can do together to solve problems and restore the American people’s faith in our government,” Phillips said in a statement.
With Trump able to keep the microphone to himself for most of the evening, lawmakers have limited outlets to express themselves aside from applause, groans or blank stares in response to the president’s remarks.
But they hope to send messages through their guests, attire or absence altogether.
“Even though we're sitting down, we're not taking it sitting down,” Frankel said.