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 John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report 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 calls on Trump to testify as part of impeachment inquiry Sunday shows — Spotlight shifts to Sondland ahead of impeachment inquiry testimony Perception won't be reality, once AI can manipulate what we see 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 Rush50 Cent meets with Pelosi, lawmakers on Capitol Hill Biden apologizes for calling Clinton impeachment a 'partisan lynching' AOC: Trump comparing impeachment inquiry to a lynching is 'atrocious' 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 SchakowskyDrag queen attends first public Trump impeachment hearing Progressives ramp up fight against Facebook Veteran Chicago-area Democrat endorses Lipinksi challenger again 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. SiresOvernight Defense: Protests at Trump's NYC Veterans Day speech | House Dems release Pentagon official's deposition transcript | Lawmakers ask Trump to rescind Erdogan invite Bipartisan House members call on Trump to rescind Erdoğan invitation Democratic lawmaker: Trudeau blackface photos 'disgusting' MORE (N.J.), Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksCNN: Biden likened Clinton impeachment to 'partisan lynching' in 1998 House Democrat urges anti-Trump resistance within administration to come 'out of the shadows' Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment MORE (N.Y.) and Danny K. Davis (Ill.). 

A handful of others will skip the speech. 

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Boeing CEO gives up bonus over 737 Max crashes Democrat says he voted to recognize Armenian genocide because 'Turkey doesn't seem to respect' US 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 BlumenauerCongress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans Hillicon Valley: Google buying Fitbit for .1B | US launches national security review of TikTok | Twitter shakes up fight over political ads | Dems push committee on 'revenge porn' law Progressives urge end to mass phone data collection program 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 LewisDemocrats ramp up oversight efforts over 'opportunity zone' incentive The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Detroit police chief calls Tlaib facial recognization idea 'racist' MORE (Ga.), Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonBlack lawmakers condemn Trump's 'lynching' remarks Maloney to serve as acting Oversight chairwoman after Cummings's death The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment MORE (Ga.) and Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonBlack lawmakers condemn Trump's 'lynching' remarks Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE (Fla.). 

Just two Democrats, Reps. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenIf we want to save earth, we need to change how we eat Trump administration suspends oil and gas production on 130 plots in Utah after challenge Why fear should not blind us to the promise of AI: A healthy dose of optimism MORE (Texas) and Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersHouse passes Ex-Im Bank reboot bill opposed by White House, McConnell White House, McConnell come out against House bill on Ex-Im Bank Divides over China, fossil fuels threaten House deal to reboot Ex-Im Bank 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 Devi HarrisIf we want to save earth, we need to change how we eat New poll shows four top-tier 2020 candidates in Iowa The Democratic race for president may not sort itself out MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden says he won't legalize marijuana because it may be a 'gateway drug' Democrats seize on report of FedEx's Elizabeth Warren tax bill to slam Trump's tax plan Warren 'fully committed' to 'Medicare for All' MORE (D-Mass.) are bringing federal workers furloughed during the shutdown as their guests, while Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandMaloney primary challenger calls on her to return, donate previous campaign donations from Trump Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee She Should Run launches initiative to expand number of women in political process 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-Cortez'Saturday Night Live' presents Trump impeachment hearings with 'pizzazz' of soap opera Louisiana governor wins reelection White House backs Stephen Miller amid white nationalist allegations 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 FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ariz.) in a Capitol Hill elevator during the fight over Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughElection 2020: Why I'm watching Amy and Andy Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation Protesters roll out a screen playing Blasey Ford's testimony ahead of Federalist Society dinner 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 OmarOcasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field Krystal Ball: Billionaires panicking over Sanders candidacy Omar renews claim Stephen Miller is a 'white nationalist' amid calls for him to step down 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.