House Democrat boycotting Trump's State of the Union
© Greg Nash

A number of Democrats last year boycotted President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE’s inauguration and first joint address to Congress — and on Friday the first lawmaker announced that he won’t attend the State of the Union later this month.

Liberal Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Overnight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide Oregon Democrats push EPA to justify use of pesticide 'highly toxic' to bees MORE (D-Ore.) released a statement that said he will be back in his district instead of the House chamber for Trump’s address on Jan. 30.

“Rather than listening to yet another destructive and divisive speech by Trump, I will not attend this year’s annual address to Congress,” Blumenauer said. “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.

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“Hearing from Oregonians and working together to protect our values and advance policies that actually strengthen our communities is a more productive use of my time.”

More than 60 Democrats, including Blumenauer, made a point of boycotting Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, but only a handful of Democrats decided to skip Trump’s joint address to Congress a month later.

Instead, many Democratic lawmakers invited guests to show another form of protest, such as hosting activists or people affected by Trump’s proposed policies. At least a dozen Democrats brought young undocumented immigrants as their guests.

But some of the Democrats who did show up for Trump’s joint address declined to sit along the center aisle to shake his hand on national television.

Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelOvernight Defense: Dems grill Trump Army, Air Force picks | House chair subpoenas Trump Afghanistan negotiator | Trump officials release military aid to Ukraine House chairman subpoenas Trump's Afghanistan negotiator Giuliani tears into Democrats after House opens probe into whether he pressured Ukraine to target Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) announced on the House floor ahead of Trump’s address last year that for the first time in his three-decade career in Congress, he would not try to secure a prime center aisle seat to shake the president’s hand.

Other Democrats sat along the center aisle but quickly cleared the area as Trump approached to avoid shaking his hand.