Democrats seek to take on Trump at State of the Union

Democrats want to use the State of the Union address on Tuesday night to illustrate their efforts to take on President TrumpDonald TrumpIran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' Ivanka Trump, Kushner distance themselves from Trump claims on election: CNN Overnight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum MORE now that they have a majority in the House. 

Fresh off their political victory in the government shutdown — which led Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Senators say White House aides agreed to infrastructure 'framework' Tim Cook called Pelosi to say tech antitrust bills were rushed MORE’s (D-Calif.) approval ratings to rise in a CNN poll released Monday — Democrats are eager to show that they’re actively showing up and resisting Trump’s agenda. 


While 14 Democrats made a point of boycotting the speech last year, so far only five have said they’ll skip this year’s address to Congress.  

Viewers at home will primarily see Pelosi seated behind Trump for the first time, offering a partisan contrast next to Vice President Pence in how they respond to what the president says in his speech. 

And when Trump looks at his audience, he’ll see a congressional body that includes record numbers of women and minorities. 

Scores of Democrats are also bringing guests designed to send political messages. 

They include immigrants who worked at Trump’s New Jersey golf club without documentation and people affected by the Trump administration’s family separations policy at the southern border. 

Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushGranholm expresses openness to pipeline cyber standards after Colonial attack Feds eye more oversight of pipelines after Colonial attack Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy MORE (D-Ill.), a senior Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) member who skipped last year’s address, will be in the chamber this year. He plans to join Democratic women in wearing white to show solidarity with suffragettes and acknowledge the record number of women serving in the House.  

“Mr. Rush wants the President to look out and see the Democratic majority that will serve as a strong Constitutional check on his power,” said Ryan Johnson, the lawmaker’s communications director. 

Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyPublic option fades with little outcry from progressives Online school raises new concerns about cyberbullying Progressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill MORE (D-Ill.), who also skipped last year’s address, plans to attend with a federal worker from Chicago who was furloughed during the shutdown. 

“She feels it’s important for President Trump to see the impact of the shutdown on hardworking Americans,” Schakowsky spokesman Guy King said. 

Other Democrats who boycotted last year’s address confirmed on Monday that they will be in attendance on Tuesday, including Reps. Albio SiresAlbio B. SiresCountering China's influence in the Caribbean with a second Caribbean Basin Initiative We can't lose sight of Ortega's abuses in Nicaragua Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs MORE (N.J.), Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksPelosi challenges Democrats on economic messaging House votes to repeal 2002 Iraq war powers Fresh hurdles push timeline on getting China bill to Biden MORE (N.Y.) and Danny K. Davis (Ill.). 

A handful of others will skip the speech. 

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenWray grilled on FBI's handling of Jan. 6 Viola Fletcher, oldest living survivor of Tulsa Race Massacre, testifies in Congress 'seeking justice' Lobbying world MORE (D-Tenn.) said in a statement to The Hill, “I’ll come to the House Chamber for the State of the Union the next time I can hear from a president who will tell the truth about the State of the Union.” He said he will watch the speech on television instead. 

And Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerBipartisan bill proposes to add billion in restaurant relief funds White House pressed on evacuating Afghan allies as time runs out Rivers, hydropower and climate resilience MORE (D-Ore.) said in a statement on Monday that “the thought of spending Tuesday night in the House Chamber listening to the reckless, self-centered man who occupies the White House holds no interest for me.” 

Nate Mook, the executive director of World Central Kitchen, will attend the State of the Union as Blumenauer’s guest. World Central Kitchen is the organization founded by celebrity chef José Andrés that has provided meals for hurricane survivors and federal workers furloughed during the recent partial government shutdown. 


“The amount of damage, division and confusion Trump has inflicted on the American people over the last six weeks has been a blemish on the new Congress and I refuse to be witness to his continued antics,” Blumenauer said. 

Other Democrats who have said they won’t attend Tuesday’s address include Reps. John LewisJohn LewisCan Manchin answer his predecessor's call on voting rights? Biden to deliver remarks on voting access next week Schumer vows next steps after 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE (Ga.), Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonBlack Democrats press leaders for reparations vote this month Bottom line Schumer waiting for recommendation on Supreme Court expansion MORE (Ga.) and Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonBiden offers traditional address in eerie setting Congressional Black Caucus members post selfie celebrating first WH visit in four years Rep. Frederica Wilson shares her famous hat collection with Netflix MORE (Fla.). 

Just two Democrats, Reps. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenManchin meets with Texas lawmakers on voting rights Lawmakers roll out legislation to defend pipelines against cyber threats Bipartisan lawmakers call for action on anti-hate crime measures MORE (Texas) and Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersMaxine Waters: Trump, campaign should be investigated for any Jan. 6 role The tale of the last bipartisan unicorns Tulsa marks race massacre centennial as US grapples with racial injustice MORE (Calif.), have never attended any of Trump’s addresses to Congress since he took office. The two are both CBC members and have each called for Trump’s impeachment.  

At press time, Green had not announced whether he would break his streak and attend this year’s State of the Union. Green has invited a relative of Michael Phuong Nguyen, an American currently detained in Vietnam, as his guest to the State of the Union regardless of his own attendance. 

“As President Trump prepares to have his second summit with Kim Jong Un in Vietnam, it is imperative that Michael Nguyen is at the forefront of his mind and he does not leave Vietnam without Mr. Nguyen or other Americans detained under questionable circumstances there,” Green said. 

Several Democratic lawmakers hoping to replace Trump at the dais after the 2020 election will be in the audience.  

Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRick Scott blocks Senate vote on top cyber nominee until Harris visits border Head of Border Patrol resigning from post Migrant children face alarming conditions in US shelter: BBC investigation MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Overnight Health Care: CDC panel meets on vaccines and heart inflammation | Health officials emphasize vaccine is safe | Judge rules Missouri doesn't have to implement Medicaid expansion Democrats urge Biden to extend moratorium on student loan payments MORE (D-Mass.) are bringing federal workers furloughed during the shutdown as their guests, while Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on critical race theory | House bill introduced to overhaul military justice system as sexual assault reform builds momentum House lawmakers introduce bill to overhaul military justice system Pentagon chief backs change to military sexual assault prosecution MORE (D-N.Y.) invited a transgender Navy lieutenant commander in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling letting stand Trump’s transgender military ban. 

Trump will also come face-to-face for the first time with the new House Democratic freshmen elected in the midterm backlash against his presidency.  

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezHouse Democrats unveil spending bill to boost staff pay, maintain lawmaker pay freeze Five takeaways from New York's primaries Ocasio-Cortez says she ranked Wiley first, Stringer second in NYC mayoral vote MORE (D-N.Y.) will be there, along with her guest who also made headlines for confronting Republicans: Ana Maria Archila, a Queens woman who shared her story of sexual assault while pursuing then-Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOn The Trail: Arizona is microcosm of battle for the GOP Trump looms large over fractured Arizona GOP Why Republican politicians are sticking with Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) in a Capitol Hill elevator during the fight over Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughSupreme Court strikes down FHFA director's firing protection Student athletes or independent contractors? Supreme Court moves the goalposts on the NCAA Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE’s Supreme Court nomination. Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that she would be giving her guest a “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History” pin. 

Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarYoung Turks founder on Democratic establishment: 'They lie nonstop' Hillary Clinton backs Shontel Brown in Ohio congressional race The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters MORE (D-Minn.), one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, is attending the speech. Omar is a Somali refugee, and she is bringing as her guest an immigrant who faces the threat of deportation due to Trump’s decision to end deferred enforced departures for Liberians. Omar’s guest came to the U.S. in 2000 fleeing civil war in Liberia and could be forced to leave the U.S. at the end of March if the program is not renewed.

“I hope by hearing the stories of people directly impacted he can at long last find some empathy,” Omar said of Trump. 

Cady Stanton and Quincey Wilson contributed.