At least 11 Democratic lawmakers will not be in the Capitol to hear President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address on Tuesday.
That’s fewer than the 60 lawmakers who boycotted President Trump’s inauguration, but it’s not an insignificant number as the president makes a major address on his policy goals.
Many cited president’s recent rhetoric about people of color and the perceived racism of his Administration as their reason for sitting out the address.
Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush said in a statement Monday that he refuses to “participate in pomp and circumstance” that normalizes Trump’s “egregious and hateful” behavior. “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,” Rush said.
Two additional Illinois lawmakers will be boycotting the address, including Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Danny Davis. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Davis will be in Chicago during the address and will watch his colleague Rep. Joe Kennedy deliver the Democratic response.
Other lawmakers sitting out the address include:
- Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)
- Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Primila Jayapal (D-Wash.)
- Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.)
- Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)
- Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.)
- Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)
- Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.)
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also announced she will skip the State of the Union this year.
A number of the boycotting lawmakers are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, a group that expressed outrage over the president’s alleged “shithole” remark about African nations and Haiti. (The Caucus’s chairman, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, introduced a resolution to censure President Trump over the remarks earlier in January.) In the wake of those remarks, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis was among the first lawmakers who said they would not be attending the address.
Jayapal followed suit saying “with all the racism and hatred coming out of this White House, I will NOT be attending Donald Trump’s State of the Union address” over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Sires said it was “disgusting that the President of the United States has no regard for American values or the immigrant experience” when he announced his boycott of the address on Twitter.
Waters has been an outspoken critic of President Trump throughout his administration and did not attend Trump’s inauguration or his first address to a joint session of Congress last year. “Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar,” she said in an interview on MSNBC. “What does he have to say that I would be interested in?”
The California Democrat and card-carrying member of the so-called resistance will deliver her own response to Trump’s address on the BET program, “Angela Rye’s State of the Union.”