Democrats planning protests for Trump’s first State of the Union

Democrats are already plotting ways to protest during President TrumpDonald John TrumpFamily immigration detention centers could be at capacity within days: report Trump likely to meet with Putin in July: report DOJ requests military lawyers to help prosecute immigration crimes: report MORE’s State of the Union later this month. 

At least one lawmaker plans to boycott the speech entirely, with more Democrats possibly opting to skip the event as well. Female Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDemocrats' education agenda would jeopardize state-level success The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix Madeleine Albright slams Trump over immigration MORE (D-Calif.) plan to wear black to show solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct, just as Hollywood stars did at an awards show over the weekend.

ADVERTISEMENT
Members of the Democratic Women’s Working Group had been discussing ideas for a coordinated effort around the State of the Union after wearing white — the color of suffragettes — to Trump’s first joint address to Congress last year. They settled on wearing black after watching the Golden Globes on Sunday.

Female Democrats are hoping that their display of black will help bring the “Me Too” conversation about rooting out sexual misconduct and women’s issues to Trump’s State of the Union on Jan. 30.

Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelA letter to Donald Trump: Fix the Iran Deal, don’t nix it Melania Trump wears white pantsuit to State of the Union Democrats planning protests for Trump’s first State of the Union MORE (D-Fla.), the chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, said she also expects to give her guest ticket in the House chamber gallery to a person involved in the “Me Too” movement, but hasn’t decided whom to invite yet.

“What we want is to really continue the conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace, about disparity of salaries where people work in the same job, and also getting paid for the value of your work,” Frankel said.

She joked that lawmakers’ attire won’t be quite the same as at the Golden Globes: “I don’t expect to see diamonds or a lot of flesh.”

Last month, female lawmakers led by Frankel demanded that Congress launch an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump that surfaced during the 2016 campaign. Three of the more than a dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct had also jointly called for lawmakers to probe the allegations against the president. 

Beyond wearing white, Democrats found several other ways to protest Trump during his joint address to Congress in February 2017.

Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelLobbyist turned wine blogger vetting UN, State personnel for loyalty to Trump: report Top Oversight and Foreign Affairs Dems ask Black Cube for answers on alleged Iran deal op Dem warns Trump: No 'secret side deals' to win China's support MORE (D-N.Y.) delivered a House floor speech announcing that he wouldn’t try to get a prime seat along the center aisle to shake the president’s hand for the first time since he began serving in 1989. Other Democrats sat along the center aisle, but quickly moved away as Trump approached to avoid shaking his hand on national television.

Many Democrats invited guests to make political statements, such as young immigrants, people affected by Trump’s travel ban and Spanish-American celebrity chef José Andrés, who withdrew plans for a restaurant in Trump’s Washington, D.C.,  hotel.

Most lawmakers haven’t decided whom to invite as guests this year, but many may bring so-called Dreamers, or immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, amid the negotiations over how to protect them from deportation. Frankel said that other members may also bring guests associated with the “Me Too” movement.

Trump announced last fall that the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program would end on March 5. Republicans and Democrats are negotiating a deal that would allow DACA recipients to stay in the U.S. while enhancing border security.

Only two Democrats announced their intentions to skip Trump’s address last year, compared to the more than 60 who boycotted his inauguration.

Reps. Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters thanks members of Sessions's church for writing immigration policy complaint Maxine Waters to Giuliani: I join Yankees fans in saying 'BOO!' Giuliani challenges Maxine Waters to keep calling for Trump ouster: 'Say impeachment, sweetheart’ MORE (D-Calif.) and Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenTom Steyer compares movement to impeach Trump to civil rights movement Juan Williams: Midterms will be referendum on Trump Dem lawmaker: We will impeach Trump if we retake the House MORE (D-Texas) both declined to attend Trump’s appearance before a joint session of Congress last year. 

Green at the time cited the decision of Trump’s Justice Department to withdraw an argument opposing the Texas voter ID law. 

Since then, Waters and Green have both agitated for Trump’s impeachment. Green forced a House floor vote last month on his articles of impeachment against Trump, which 57 other Democrats supported.

Green said Wednesday that he plans to make an announcement in the coming days about whether he will attend the State of the Union.

A spokeswoman for Waters didn’t return a request for comment.

So far, Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerBipartisan lawmakers agree — marijuana prohibition has failed and it’s time to change the law Commodity checkoff reform needed Overnight Defense: Latest on scrapped Korea summit | North Korea still open to talks | Pentagon says no change in military posture | House passes 6B defense bill | Senate version advances MORE (Ore.) is the only Democrat who has said he won’t attend the State of the Union address.

“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,” Blumenauer said in a statement.

Other vocal Trump critics like Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenDems rip Trump concessions, 'embarrassing' rhetoric with Kim Lawmakers spar at hearing over census citizenship question New Poor People’s Campaign has the laudable goal of focusing on the neediest among us MORE (D-Tenn.), who both voted in favor of impeaching Trump last month, plan to attend. 

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), who introduced legislation called the Stable Genius Act this week requiring all presidential candidates to undergo a medical exam, also said he would go to the State of the Union despite boycotting the inauguration last year. Boyle named his bill after a tweet by Trump over the weekend proclaiming himself a “very stable genius” amid discussion of his mental stability and fitness to serve as president. 

Despite his legislative poking fun at Trump, Boyle thinks it is worth being in the audience for the State of the Union. 

“In my mind, I made the distinction between what is actually part of my job versus something that’s more a formal ceremony but actually isn’t necessarily part of your job. So I would look at it the same way this year,” Boyle said of his decision to boycott the inauguration but attend Trump’s joint address to Congress.

“I think that it is important given that he’s talking entirely about legislative issues, that as representatives, we would be there.”