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 TrumpRussian sanctions will boomerang States, cities rethink tax incentives after Amazon HQ2 backlash A Presidents Day perspective on the nature of a free press MORE now that they have a majority in the House. 

Fresh off their political victory in the government shutdown — which led Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiMalaysia says it will choose 5G partners based on own standards, not US recommendations Pelosi warns allies against using Huawei Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 RushMLB, Congress play hardball in fight over minor leagues Democrats praise Romney for breaking with GOP on convicting Trump Democrats criticize Medal of Freedom for Limbaugh as 'slap in the face' 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 SchakowskyA disaster for diplomacy and the Zionist dream The Hill's Morning Report - Sanders repeats with NH primary win, but with narrower victory Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars 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. SiresLawmakers raise concerns over Russia's growing influence in Venezuela Lawmakers request watchdog probe of Trump admin's ending of temporary protected status House passes resolution disapproving of Russia being included in future G7 summits MORE (N.J.), Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksDemocratic rivals sharpen attacks as Bloomberg rises The Hill's Campaign Report: Rising Klobuchar, Buttigieg face test in diverse states Bloomberg builds momentum on Capitol Hill with new endorsements MORE (N.Y.) and Danny K. Davis (Ill.). 

A handful of others will skip the speech. 

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenClinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley to boycott State of the Union 10 Democrats to boycott Trump State of the Union address 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 BlumenauerClinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley to boycott State of the Union 10 Democrats to boycott Trump State of the Union address 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. 

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 LewisHouse passes bipartisan bill to create women's history museum NAACP to honor John Lewis 10 Democrats to boycott Trump State of the Union address MORE (Ga.), Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonClinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley to boycott State of the Union 10 Democrats to boycott Trump State of the Union address MORE (Ga.) and Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonDemocrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' Clinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley to boycott State of the Union MORE (Fla.). 

Just two Democrats, Reps. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenDemocrats highlight lack of diversity at major banks in new report House passes supplemental disaster relief for Puerto Rico Clinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union MORE (Texas) and Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersDemocrats highlight lack of diversity at major banks in new report Fed chief issues stark warning to Congress on deficits 10 Democrats to boycott Trump State of the Union address 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 HarrisConway: Trump is 'toying with everybody' by attacking Bloomberg for stop-and-frisk comments The Hill's Campaign Report: New challenges for 2020 Dems in Nevada, South Carolina Beleaguered Biden turns to must-win South Carolina MORE (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJoe Biden lost his fastball — can he get it back before South Carolina? Where the 2020 Democrats stand on taxes Budget hawks frustrated by 2020 politics in entitlement reform fight MORE (D-Mass.) are bringing federal workers furloughed during the shutdown as their guests, while Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHillicon Valley: US hits Huawei with new charges | Judge orders Pentagon to halt 'war cloud' work amid Amazon challenge | IRS removes guidance on Fortnite game currency Gillibrand proposes creating new digital privacy agency Lobbying world 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-CortezThe Democratic demolition derby Julián Castro endorses Rep. Cuellar's primary opponent in Texas Overnight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' 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 FlakeMcSally launches 2020 campaign Sinema will vote to convict Trump Senate drama surrounding Trump trial starts to fizzle MORE (R-Ariz.) in a Capitol Hill elevator during the fight over Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughManchin not ruling out endorsing Trump reelection Impeachment fallout threatens to upend battle for Senate Tlaib says she held Omar's hand during 'triggering' moments at Trump's State of the Union speech 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 OmarTlaib says she held Omar's hand during 'triggering' moments at Trump's State of the Union speech Key House Democrat says Perez must go: 'He doesn't lead on anything' Democrats tear into Trump's speech: It was a 'MAGA rally' 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.