House

Dem behind impeachment push to boycott State of the Union

Stefani Reynolds

A House Democrat who has been one of the biggest proponents in Congress to impeach President Trump announced Tuesday that he will again boycott the State of the Union address.

Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) has never attended a joint address Trump has delivered to Congress. And he has no plans to break that streak this year, even as Democrats now hold the House majority.

That makes Green at least the sixth House Democrat to skip Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.

“I have judiciously pursued President Trump’s impeachment. However, because he is still unfit yet still in office, I see no compelling reason to end my protest of this event,” Green said in a statement.

Green said that Trump has “harmed our society by making bigotry and invidious discrimination more acceptable across our country.” He went on to connect Trump’s actions to the ongoing chaos in Virginia after Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam refused to resign over a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page showing two people wearing blackface and a Ku Klux Klan robe.

Green went on to reiterate his call for Northam’s resignation. Fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other top Democrats in Congress have also urged Northam to step down.

“To a certain extent, this governor is ostensibly insulated by the refusal of President Trump to resign, coupled with his not being impeached. Allowing a president who exhibits bigotry to remain in office until the next election while demanding that a governor who has exhibited bigotry leave office before the next election is called ‘having a double standard.’ Bigotry, regardless of the source, is unacceptable. Both must go,” Green said.

But Green will still have a guest in the House chamber audience even though the lawmaker won’t be in attendance. Green invited a relative of Michael Phuong Nguyen, an American currently detained in Vietnam.

“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.

Green forced two House floor votes on impeachment in the last session of Congress. Both efforts were defeated due to opposition from both Republicans and Democrats.

Fifty-eight Democrats voted in support of the first vote forced by Green in December 2017, while 66 Democrats voted for it in January 2018.

A total of 14 Democrats boycotted Trump’s State of the Union address last year.

But a number of those Democrats are attending this year now that they are in the majority.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), for example, was among the Democrats who skipped Trump’s address to Congress last year. This year, however, Rush “wants the president to look out and see the Democratic majority that will serve as a strong Constitutional check on his power,” according to Ryan Johnson, the lawmaker’s communications director.

So did Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), who is going this time around.

“This year, Nancy Pelosi has retaken the gavel as Speaker of the House, and I certainly want the president to see me and my fellow Democrats in the room demonstrating that we in the majority will now serve as that check on this administration,” Meeks said in a statement.

But a handful of Democrats are still boycotting Tuesday’s State of the Union.

Here are the other Democrats who won’t be attending:

Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)

Lewis will not attend the speech, his office confirmed to The Hill. He also boycotted Trump’s State of the Union last year.

Rep. Hank Johnson (Ga.)

“I have a problem with defiling the Speaker’s chair in the House of Representatives,” Johnson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I don’t want to see it lowered, as is what happens when Donald Trump comes to our floor and starts talking about groups of people, particularly Latinos, and disparaging them as a people.”

“I’d rather be somewhere else,” Johnson added.

Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)

“I will not attend the State of the Union once again this year. 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,” Cohen said in a statement to The Hill.

Cohen previously introduced articles of impeachment against Trump in late 2017. But has not reintroduced them yet in the new Congress, citing a desire to wait for the conclusion of the investigation into Russian election interference led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Cohen also skipped Trump’s State of the Union last year.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)

“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. Just like in past years, I plan to skip a speech that will be filled with lies, deception and divisiveness,” Blumenauer said in a statement.

Blumenauer invited the executive director of the World Central Kitchen, Nate Mook, to attend as his guest even though he won’t be there. World Central Kitchen, founded by celebrity chef José Andrés, has recently provided meals to hurricane victims and federal workers furloughed during the recent partial government shutdown.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (Fla.)

Wilson will be watching the address with a group of her constituents, her office told The Hill. Wilson did not attend last year’s address either.

Cady Stanton, Quincey Wilson and Darcy Palder contributed.

Tags Al Green Bobby Rush Donald Trump Earl Blumenauer Frederica Wilson Gregory Meeks Hank Johnson John Lewis Nancy Pelosi Robert Mueller Steve Cohen
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