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WHIP LIST: Dems boycotting Trump’s State of the Union

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A growing number of Democrats are boycotting Tuesday’s State of the Union address, underscoring the depth of disdain the Democratic lawmakers hold for President Trump.

Only two Democrats — Reps. Maxine Waters (Calif.) and Al Green (Texas) — skipped Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress last year, though more than 60 Democrats boycotted Trump’s inauguration.

This year, boycotts appear to be spiking.

Here’s a running tally of those skipping the address:

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)

Blumenauer was the first Democrat to announce he would boycott this year’s State of the Union. 

{mosads}“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 in a statement on Jan. 5. 

“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.”

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)

Cohen’s distaste for Trump is well established: he introduced articles of impeachment against Trump in November. Instead of attending the State of the Union, Cohen will fly back to his Memphis-area district and watch the official Democratic response from Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.).

“The President is unworthy of the podium, the position and the power,” Cohen said in a statement announcing his boycott.

Rep. Danny K. Davis (Ill.)

Davis, another Black Caucus member, will not be attending the State of the Union either. 

“I cannot in good conscience stand silently by and watch generations of struggle for equal rights, for civil, human and voting rights, for the rights of women, for social and economic justice be undone from the highest office in the land,” Davis said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Rep. Al Green (Texas)

Green has twice forced votes on articles of impeachment against Trump. Like Waters, he also boycotted Trump’s address last year.

“[A]s a matter of principle and conviction, I will boycott the State of the Union to send a message of disapproval to an unfit president,” Green said, according to the Houston Chronicle

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (Wash.)

Jayapal plans to spend time with liberal activists instead of attending the State of the Union.

“My refusal to attend the State of the Union, then, is not about policy differences — of which I have many. I would attend a State of the Union by a president with whom I disagree if I felt she or he was otherwise respectful and adhered to basic moral values or basic tenets of civility and respect,” Jayapal wrote in a Medium post.

Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)

Lee said that she has attended every State of the Union address since she won election to the House in 1998. But this year, she said that she won’t go because Trump “has not honored nor respected the office of the presidency.”

“Instead of listening to President Trump manufacture accomplishments, attack his political enemies and intentionally mislead the American people, I will join principled activists to strategize the next phase of resistance and our vision to move America forward,” Lee said in a statement.

Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)

Lewis, the civil rights icon, said he didn’t want to be in the same room as Trump following his remarks during a private meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy describing Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shithole countries.” 

“I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans. I just cannot do it. I wouldn’t be honest with myself,” Lewis told MSNBC’s Katy Tur. 

Lewis also boycotted Trump’s inauguration last year. The spat began when Trump said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he did not view Trump as a “legitimate president.” Trump then tweeted that Lewis “should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart,” and described him as “all talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!”

Trump drew bipartisan criticism for failing to acknowledge how Lewis was arrested numerous times during the civil rights movement and was beaten by police officers while marching in Selma, Ala., in 1965.

Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)

Meeks is joining other Black Caucus members who were outraged over Trump’s disparaging remarks about certain nations earlier this month. He’ll instead watch the speech from his office. 

“I cannot give this man, who does not respect me, the respect to be in that audience,” Meeks told MSNBC’s “Politics Nation.” “I will not be there.”

Rep. Bobby Rush (Ill.)

Rush, a senior member of the Congressional Black Caucus, didn’t mince words while announcing his plans to skip Trump’s address.

“This has been the most chaotic, divisive, and incompetent first year of any administration and I will not sit and watch as Trump pretends that he’s off to a successful start. He’s not,” Rush said in a statement.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)

Schakowsky said she will boycott the State of the Union because she refuses “to normalize President Donald Trump and his loathsome language and actions.”

She represents a Chicago-area district where Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won 70 percent of the vote, making it no surprise that Schakowsky would note that her constituents have “asked me to resist and they’ve asked me to boycott.” 

Rep. Albio Sires (N.J.) 

Sires, a Cuban immigrant, is skipping the event after condemning Trump’s “shithole” comments earlier this month. 

“The congressman is not attending the State of the Union because many of his constituents are offended by the president’s rhetoric and behavior,” a Sires spokeswoman told NJ.com

Rep. Juan Vargas (Calif.)
 
Vargas wrote on Twitter that Trump “continues to disrespect women, insult people of color, and attack our immigrant communities.” 
 
“I will not be attending the State of the Union—I stand in solidarity with all the people he has and continues to disrespect,” Vargas said.

Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.)

Waters skipped last year’s speech and won’t be coming this year either. The California Democrat’s profile has skyrocketed in the last year for her withering criticism of Trump, earning her the nickname “Auntie Maxine” from fans.

Waters does, however, plan to respond to Trump’s address during a BET network special. 

Rep. Frederica Wilson (Fla.)

Trump targeted Wilson last year after she criticized his handling of a call to the widow of a fallen solider, deeming her “wacky” on Twitter.

Wilson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Monday that she won’t attend the State of the Union because of his behavior toward black people.

“To go would be to honor the president and I don’t think he deserves to be honored at this time after being so hateful towards black people and then black countries, Haiti and the whole continent of Africa,” Wilson said during an interview on CNN. 

Tags Al Green Albio Sires Barbara Lee Bobby Rush Boycott Donald Trump Earl Blumenauer Frederica Wilson Gregory Meeks Hillary Clinton Jan Schakowsky Joe Kennedy John Lewis Juan Vargas Maxine Waters Pramila Jayapal SOTU 2018 State of the Union Steve Cohen
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