Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents

When Donald Trump stands on the elevated dais and looks out onto the House floor Tuesday night, the 45th president will see the faces of a number of Democrats eager to unseat him in 2020.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker says he will ask Amy Coney Barrett if she will recuse herself from presidential election-related cases Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election The movement to reform animal agriculture has reached a tipping point MORE (D-N.J.), who just launched his presidential bid, will be there at Trump’s State of the Union address, as will Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris says she hasn't 'made a plan one way or another' on meeting Supreme Court nominee Compromise, yes — but how? A pre-debate suggestion Biden must clarify his stance on energy for swing voters MORE (D-Calif.). Last year, both aggressively grilled Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Trump's tax return bombshell Juan Williams: Trump's Supreme Court power grab Manchin opposes adding justices to the court MORE, who likely will be sitting in the front row with his fellow justices.

Trump will also see Democratic Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election Sunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Suburban moms are going to decide the 2020 election MORE from his home state of New York, and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's tax bombshell | More election drama in Pennsylvania | Trump makes up ground in new polls New Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Democrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' MORE (D-Mass.), whom Trump frequently mocks as “Pocahontas” for her claims of Native American heritage.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reps. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardRepublicans call on DOJ to investigate Netflix over 'Cuties' film Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses slate of non-Hispanic candidates Gabbard says she 'was not invited to participate in any way' in Democratic convention MORE (D-Hawaii)  is running, too, while Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellHouse to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Swalwell calls for creation of presidential crimes commission to investigate Trump when he leaves office 'This already exists': Democrats seize on potential Trump executive order on preexisting conditions MORE (D-Calif.) and Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPresident Trump faces Herculean task in first debate The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Trump's tax return bombshell New Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments MORE (I-Vt.), Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE (D-Minn.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownMnuchin says he and Pelosi have agreed to restart coronavirus stimulus talks Harris faces pivotal moment with Supreme Court battle Remote work poses state tax challenges MORE (D-Ohio) are all weighing bids.

And during the speech, Trump might think that he’s seeing double: Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Júlian Castro won’t be on hand, but his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroDisinformation, QAnon efforts targeting Latino voters ramp up ahead of presidential election Pompeo accused of stumping for Trump ahead of election Florida Democrat asks FBI to investigate anti-Semitic, racist disinformation MORE (D-Texas), probably will.

“It should be great theater as the 2020 hopefuls audition for their base,” freshman Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerNetflix distances from author's comments about Muslim Uyghurs but defends project Abortion stirs GOP tensions in Supreme Court fight Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day MORE (R-N.D.), a Trump ally and former House member, told The Hill. “It would be fun to have a caption contest as the cameras pan the heckling section.”

Tuesday’s address in the House chamber will be Trump’s second official State of the Union and third major speech to a joint session of Congress. But it will mark his first State of the Union in a new era of divided government, after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAirline industry applauds Democrats for including aid in coronavirus relief package Democrats unveil scaled-down .2T coronavirus relief package Trump tax reveal roils presidential race MORE (D-Calif.) and the Democrats took back control of the House in a midterms election seen as a referendum on the unpopular and unpredictable president.

A senior administration official nonetheless said Trump is planning to strike a “unifying tone” in his address.

Some issues could get bipartisan applause lines, like lowering prescription drug prices, infrastructure and pressuring China on its trade policies.

“Together we can break decades of political stalemate, we can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make,” Trump will say, according the official.

If all the 2020 challengers aren’t enough, Pelosi will be sitting just above Trump’s left shoulder, literally breathing down his neck as her committee chairs (sitting in the audience) prepare to launch a slew of investigations into his administration — and several individual Cabinet members who will accompany Trump down the center aisle.

It’ll mark a sea change from Trump’s last two addresses to Congress, where Vice President Pence and then-Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump, Biden have one debate goal: Don't lose RNC chair on election: We are on track to win the White House Kenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 MORE (R-Wis.) smiled and applauded behind him throughout.

The two political heavyweights — Trump and Pelosi — have clashed for the past two months over the president’s demand that the Congress approve $5.7 billion for his wall on the southern border. The knock-down, drag-out fight shut down the government for a record 35 days — furloughing 800,000 federal workers, sparking delays at airports and delaying Republicans’ and Democrats’ annual policy retreats.

The State of the Union speech itself became a hostage in the Trump-Pelosi firefight. Pelosi invited and then disinvited Trump to deliver his annual address amid the shutdown. Trump threatened to come to Capitol Hill anyway on Jan. 29, launching an unprecedented standoff between the executive and legislative branches.

ADVERTISEMENT

When Trump reopened the government with no new wall funding, caving to Pelosi’s position, the Speaker extended an olive branch, and a second invitation, to Trump for Tuesday.

But the truce seemed to be over as soon as it began, with funding for a handful of federal agencies set to run out again after Feb. 15. Trump has continued to insist Congress deliver him money for his wall; Pelosi has continued to rebuff him.

The real, functional deadline for lawmakers will be on Friday, just three days after Trump appears in the House chamber. Lawmakers on the bipartisan, bicameral conference committee are aiming to complete a deal by the end of this week to give both chambers enough time the following week to send a bill to Trump by the Feb. 15 deadline.

Trump, however, has dismissed the bipartisan committee of negotiators as a “waste of time.”

The president told reporters at the White House on Friday that there is a “good chance” he will declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build a wall along the border with Mexico.

“I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to do that,” Trump said.

Trump said people should “listen closely” to his Tuesday address and indicated he'll offer more details about his plan.

Pelosi scoffed at Trump’s dismissal of the conference committee.

“I mean, really, a president who wants to have Congress be completely irrelevant in how we meet the needs of the American people? No, come on,” Pelosi said Thursday.

Pelosi will sit behind him, but Trump will literally have to face the new House Democratic majority resisting his agenda as he speaks.

Scores of female House Democrats are expected to offer a sea of white in the crowd to show solidarity with suffragettes. A spokeswoman for the chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelShakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Florida Democrat introduces bill to recognize Puerto Rico statehood referendum Hillicon Valley: Democrats demand answers over Russian interference bulletin | Google Cloud wins defense contract for cancer research | Cyberattack disrupts virtual classes MORE (D-Fla.), confirmed that female lawmakers are being invited to wear white.

They’ll represent the record number of women elected to Congress with the Democratic wave in November who ran against Trump’s agenda.

Other liberals will make a statement by not being in the room at all.

At least two House Democrats, Congressional Black Caucus members Reps. John LewisJohn LewisThe House's stake in filibuster reform Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Underwood takes over as chair of House cybersecurity panel MORE (Ga.) and Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonFive takeaways as panel grills tech CEOs Lawmakers, public bid farewell to John Lewis Johnson presses Barr on reducing Roger Stone's recommended sentence MORE, (Ga.) won’t be attending.

And it’s possible that others will announce boycotts closer to the date. Fourteen Democrats skipped last year’s State of the Union address, including some Democrats who have called for Trump’s impeachment like Reps. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenThe Memo: Trump furor stokes fears of unrest The Memo: Trump's race tactics fall flat Trump administration ending support for 7 Texas testing sites as coronavirus cases spike MORE (Texas), Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersPowell, Mnuchin stress limits of current emergency lending programs Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief Omar invokes father's death from coronavirus in reaction to Woodward book MORE (Calif.) and Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenTennessee Rep. Steve Cohen wins Democratic primary Democrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities MORE (Tenn.).

“I have a problem with defiling the Speaker’s chair in the House of Representatives,” Johnson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  “I don’t want to see it lowered, as is what happens when Donald Trump comes to our floor and starts talking about groups of people, particularly Latinos, and disparaging them as a people.”

“I’d rather be somewhere else,” he added.

Other Democrats are trying to send a message with their guests, who will sit in the public galleries overlooking the chamber.

Reps. Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanDemocrats smell blood with new DHS whistleblower complaint New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries New Jersey Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman wins Democratic primary MORE (N.J.) and Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezDemocrats call for IRS to review tax-exempt status of NRA Trump says no Post Office funding means Democrats 'can't have universal mail-in voting' Hispanic Caucus asks for Department of Labor meeting on COVID in meatpacking plants MORE (Calif.) invited two immigrants, Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz, who worked at Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., golf club while they did not have legal status. Diaz is now a legal U.S. resident, while Morales was terminated from her job as a housekeeper in the aftermath of a New York Times report revealing her status.

“I hope that in his State of the Union address, Donald Trump will finally acknowledge the real face of immigrants in this country — women and children fleeing violence, law-abiding, tax-paying people who would do almost anything to be Americans. And if he can’t, I’ve invited Victorina so that he may look her in her eyes to tell his lies to a familiar face,” Watson Coleman said in a statement.

Swalwell, meanwhile, invited Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky, one of the most outspoken student gun control activists since last year’s massacre. Kasky frequently criticizes Trump.

It’s been more than a decade since a sitting president delivered a State of the Union to an audience with so many people angling to unseat him.

When President George W. Bush delivered his address in 2003, he would have peered down at a handful of lawmakers hoping to oust him from power: Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryPresident Trump faces Herculean task in first debate Trump, Biden have one debate goal: Don't lose Trump-Biden debate: High risk vs. low expectations MORE (D-Mass.), who eventually won the nomination, but also House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), and Sens. John Edwards (D-N.C.), Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), who was part of the Democratic ticket that lost to Bush in 2000 after a historic court battle.

Only three members of Congress, former Reps. Michele BachmannMichele Marie BachmannEvangelicals shouldn't be defending Trump in tiff over editorial Mellman: The 'lane theory' is the wrong lane to be in White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations MORE (Minn.), Ron Paul (Texas) and Thaddeus McCotter (Mich.), sought the 2012 GOP nomination to unseat then-President Obama.

But at Obama’s 2015 address, he had a cast of characters in the audience who wanted to succeed the two-term president. They included Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP online donor platform offering supporters 'Notorious A.C.B.' shirts Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election GOP lawmakers distance themselves from Trump comments on transfer of power MORE (R-Fla.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSupreme Court fight should drive Democrats and help Biden Fears grow of chaotic election Senate GOP set to vote on Trump's Supreme Court pick before election MORE (R-Texas), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRon Paul hospitalized in Texas The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' Rand Paul says he can't judge 'guilt or innocence' in Breonna Taylor case MORE (R-Ky.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSupreme Court fight should drive Democrats and help Biden Graham to meet with Trump's Supreme Court pick on Tuesday Democratic super PAC launches .5M ad campaign against Graham MORE (R-S.C.).

Trump, however, vanquished them all. In fact, during the 2016 campaign, Trump mocked Rubio’s now-infamous State of the Union GOP response where the senator — suffering from a dry mouth — took an awkward sip of water as the cameras rolled.

Those one-time 2016 GOP presidential rivals have now aligned themselves with Trump. And they likely will be applauding many of his lines on Tuesday.

Jordan Fabian contributed.