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 TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE now that they have a majority in the House. 

Fresh off their political victory in the government shutdown — which led Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNegotiators hit gas on coronavirus talks as frustration mounts Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Schiff, Khanna call for free masks for all Americans in coronavirus aid package 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 RushIllinois lawmaker says Trump wants to instigate a race war The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump, GOP senators at odds over next stimulus bill Democrats set to hold out for big police reform 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 SchakowskyDemocrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Democrats introduce bill to repeal funding ban on abortions abroad Trade negotiations mustn't short-circuit domestic debate 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. SiresWe can't lose sight of Ortega's abuses in Nicaragua Hispanic Caucus requests meeting with private detention center CEOs New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell wins Democratic primary MORE (N.J.), Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksDemocrats go big on diversity with new House recruits Chamber of Commerce, banking industry groups call on Senate to pass corporate diversity bill Sherman joins race for House Foreign Affairs gavel MORE (N.Y.) and Danny K. Davis (Ill.). 

A handful of others will skip the speech. 

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenDemocrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Texas Democrat proposes legislation requiring masks in federal facilities Pelosi throws cold water on impeaching Barr 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 BlumenauerTrump threatens to double down on Portland in other major cities Federal agents deployed to Portland did not have training in riot control: NYT US attorney calls for investigation into unmarked federal agents arresting protesters in Oregon 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 LewisLoeffler knocks WNBA players for wearing shirts backing Democratic challenger Julia Louis-Dreyfus weighs in on 'Veep' parody of Trump interview CNN political director: President's comments on Lewis 'so shameful' but 'also classic Donald Trump' MORE (Ga.), 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.) and Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonHouse passes bill establishing commission to study racial disparities affecting Black men, boys Florida county official apologizes for social media post invoking Hitler  GOP struggles to confront racial issues MORE (Fla.). 

Just two Democrats, Reps. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenThe Memo: Trump's race tactics fall flat Trump administration ending support for 7 Texas testing sites as coronavirus cases spike The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Miami mayor worries about suicide and domestic violence rise; Trump-governor debate intensifies MORE (Texas) and Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersWaters rips Trump, GOP over mail-in ballots: 'They'll lie, cheat and steal to stay in power' CDC director says he wasn't involved in decision to reroute COVID-19 hospitalization data Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier 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 HarrisMichelle Obama supporters urge Biden to pick former first lady as running mate Michelle Obama wishes Barack a happy birthday: 'My favorite guy' Harris endorses Democrat in tight California House race MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTrump says government to review 5M Kodak loan deal Michelle Obama supporters urge Biden to pick former first lady as running mate On The Money: Unemployment debate sparks GOP divisions | Pandemic reveals flaws of unemployment insurance programs | Survey finds nearly one-third of rehired workers laid off again MORE (D-Mass.) are bringing federal workers furloughed during the shutdown as their guests, while Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandBiden should pick the best person for the job — not the best woman Overnight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw 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-CortezLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary Trump campaign rolls out TV spots in early voting states after advertising pause Trump adviser Jason Miller: Biden running mate pick 'his political living will' 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 FlakeCheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama GOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism MORE (R-Ariz.) in a Capitol Hill elevator during the fight over Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMcConnell has 17-point lead over Democratic challenger McGrath: poll Davis: My recommendation for vice president on Biden ticket Kavanaugh urged Supreme Court to avoid decisions on Trump finances, abortion: report 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 OmarLongtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary Police committed 125 human rights violations during Floyd protests: Amnesty Trump campaign rolls out TV spots in early voting states after advertising pause 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.