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 TrumpJimmy Carter: 'I hope there's an age limit' on presidency White House fires DHS general counsel: report Trump to cap California trip with visit to the border MORE now that they have a majority in the House. 

Fresh off their political victory in the government shutdown — which led Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Democrats will 'certainly' beat Trump in 2020 Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing 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 RushHouse Democrats blur lines on support for impeachment Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries 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 SchakowskyLawmakers jump-start talks on privacy bill The Hill's Morning Report — Mueller testimony gives Trump a boost as Dems ponder next steps On The Money: House to vote on budget deal Thursday | US, China resuming trade talks next week | Mnuchin backs DOJ tech antitrust probe 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. SiresActivists push for tougher sanctions on Nicaragua's government Biden, Harris lead in 2020 endorsements New Jersey Dems tell Pentagon not to use military funds for border wall MORE (N.J.), Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksTen notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Embattled Juul seeks allies in Washington House Democrat knocks Trump's Cummings tweet: 'This guy is a terrible, terrible human being' MORE (N.Y.) and Danny K. Davis (Ill.). 

A handful of others will skip the speech. 

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenLewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing Trump probes threaten to overshadow Democrats' agenda Ocasio-Cortez renews impeachment call amid probe involving Trump's Scotland property 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 BlumenauerMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Overnight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide Oregon Democrats push EPA to justify use of pesticide 'highly toxic' to bees 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 LewisThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same CBC marks 400th anniversary of slaves' arrival in US GOP buys after Democrat launches Georgia Senate bid MORE (Ga.), Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonLewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing Democrat to Lewandowski: You are 'like a fish being cleaned with a spoon' The United States broken patent system is getting worse MORE (Ga.) and Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonTen notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress Democratic rep reconsiders wearing trademark hats because of 'racists who taunt me' MORE (Fla.). 

Just two Democrats, Reps. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenTen notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Methane emissions continue to drop Two coal miners demand McGrath stop using their images in McConnell attack ad MORE (Texas) and Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersBipartisan housing finance reform on the road less taken Manufacturing group leads coalition to urge Congress to reauthorize Ex-Im Bank Democrats' impeachment message leads to plenty of head-scratching 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 HarrisKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Biden leads in new national poll, Warren close behind in second place MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenKavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Mark Mellman: The most important moment in history? Katie Pavlich: The Democrats' desperate do-overs MORE (D-Mass.) are bringing federal workers furloughed during the shutdown as their guests, while Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandDemocrats seize Senate floor to protest gun inaction: 'Put up or shut up' At debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions 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-CortezGreta Thunberg scolds Congress on climate action: 'I know you are trying but just not hard enough' Ocasio-Cortez endorses challenger to Democrat Lipinski in Illinois race The Hill's Morning Report - What is Trump's next move on Iran? 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 FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.) in a Capitol Hill elevator during the fight over Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughTrump dismisses NYT explanation on Kavanaugh correction Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Katie Pavlich: The Democrats' desperate do-overs 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 OmarTrump seeks to expand electoral map with New Mexico rally Omar says she hopes Netanyahu not reelected Sunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate 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.