Democrats gear up for State of the Union protests as impeachment lingers

A number of House Democrats are gearing up to stage protests against President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE's State of the Union address once again Tuesday, this time after voting to impeach him. 

Female Democrats are reprising their coordinated white outfits to show solidarity with women, and, as in years past, at least a handful of lawmakers are considering or planning to boycott Trump’s speech in the House chamber entirely.

The final vote in the Senate trial to acquit Trump will likely come on Wednesday, the day after his speech, and the lawmakers absent for the address will include some of the earliest and most fervent supporters of impeachment.

ADVERTISEMENT

Rep. Steve CohenStephen (Steve) Ira CohenMemphis congressman asks Tennessee, neighboring states to issue shelter-in-place orders Centrist Democrats insist Sanders would need delegate majority to win Clinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union MORE (D-Tenn.), who introduced articles of impeachment against Trump in 2017, skipped the last two State of the Union addresses. He told The Hill that he has no intention to "go in a very cold room and hear a bunch of puff and lies." 

Rep. Al GreenAlexander (Al) N. GreenOvernight Energy: Iconic national parks close over coronavirus concerns | New EPA order limits telework post-pandemic | Lawmakers urge help for oil and gas workers Bipartisan lawmakers urge assistance for oil and gas workers Lawmakers shame ex-Wells Fargo directors for failing to reboot bank MORE (D-Texas), who forced three House votes on impeachment and has boycotted all of Trump's addresses to Congress to date, said that he was undecided. 

“The things that caused me to stay away have not changed,” Green acknowledged. But he said that he has been “encouraged” by a colleague to attend and is weighing his decision.

At least six House Democrats made a point of not attending last year’s State of the Union, while 14 boycotted the address in 2018.

The offices of other Democrats who boycotted Trump’s State of the Union in the last two years — including Reps. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerSenators urge Congress to include election funds in coronavirus stimulus Vote at home saves our democracy and saves lives House committee advances medical marijuana bills for veterans MORE (Ore.), John LewisJohn LewisThe Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump: Tough times but progress being made John Lewis endorses Biden for president MORE (Ga.), Hank JohnsonHenry (Hank) C. JohnsonProgressives urge Democrats to hear from federal judge deeply critical of Roberts, conservatives House approves bill banning flavored tobacco products Clinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union MORE (Ga.) and Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms Democrats, Trump set to battle over implementing T relief bill Maxine Waters unleashes over Trump COVID-19 response: 'Stop congratulating yourself! You're a failure' MORE (Calif.) — did not respond when asked if they would attend this time around. 

But among those sure to be at the State of the Union, which will also take place a day after the Iowa presidential caucuses, will be the Democrats who oversaw the impeachment inquiry.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump will come face-to-face with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Mattis defends Pentagon IG removed by Trump Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages 'another fake dossier' | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash MORE (D-Calif.) for the first time since she presided over the House votes to impeach him in December.

A Pelosi spokesman confirmed that the Speaker and the president have not spoken since a disastrous Oct. 16 White House meeting about Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria.

The two sides disagreed over whether Trump called Pelosi a “third-grade” or “third-rate” politician, but Democrats angered by the insult walked out of the meeting.

Pelosi told reporters assembled in the Capitol afterward that Trump had a “very serious meltdown” and that “we have to pray for his health.”

Relations between the two haven’t improved much since then.

Pelosi, who will be seated behind Trump during the address, is likely to be among the female lawmakers wearing white, like last year. A photo of Pelosi clapping with her arms outstretched in response to Trump calling for an end to "revenge politics" went viral last year, which was the first of his term with Democrats controlling the House.

Democratic women — and some men — wore white, the color of suffragettes, at the 2019 State of the Union as well as Trump’s joint address shortly after his inauguration in 2017. They wore black in 2018 in solidarity with the “Me Too” movement rooting out sexual misconduct.

Rep. Lois FrankelLois Jane FrankelCDC chief says it's wrong to call COVID-19 a 'Chinese virus' House lawmakers introduce legislation to promote women's global empowerment Afghan Women: Essential for Peace MORE (D-Fla.), a co-chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, said she felt it was necessary to send a message from the room to women and her constituents instead of boycotting the address.

“I think it's important to be there. The country is watching,” Frankel said. “I want them to know that we are there and sending the message that we are fighting back and we're fighting for the people.”

Many of the vulnerable Democrats facing tough reelection races this year would rather spotlight campaign issues such as lowering the cost of prescription drugs at the State of the Union as they seek to move on from impeachment.

Rep. Susie LeeSuzanne (Susie) Kelley LeeMORE (D-Nev.) is bringing a 75-year-old constituent who faced high costs to treat a chronic ear infection, while Reps. Susan WildSusan WildDemocratic congresswomen wear white to Trump's address in honor of suffrage movement Democrats gear up for State of the Union protests as impeachment lingers Giffords gun reform group backs eight 'strong women' in House reelection bids MORE (D-Pa.) and Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristBiden rise calms Democratic jitters Mnuchin details IRS challenges with cash-only marijuana businesses Democrats gear up for State of the Union protests as impeachment lingers MORE (D-Fla.) have invited guests with diabetes to also draw attention to prescription drug costs.

Freshman Rep. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsLawmakers call for unemployment benefits for evacuated Peace Corps volunteers Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol: 'We are the captains of this ship' Congressional leaders downplay possibility of Capitol closing due to coronavirus MORE (D-Minn.), meanwhile, is trying to demonstrate bipartisanship amid the impeachment fever pitch.

ADVERTISEMENT

Phillips has invited the Republican mayor of Brooklyn Park, a city in his district, to tout their work together on issues such as affordable housing and providing a pathway to citizenship for Liberians with deferred enforced departure status.

“With all the division in politics right now, I believe the cooperation in Brooklyn Park sends a powerful message on what we can do together to solve problems and restore the American people’s faith in our government,” Phillips said in a statement.

With Trump able to keep the microphone to himself for most of the evening, lawmakers have limited outlets to express themselves aside from applause, groans or blank stares in response to the president’s remarks.

But they hope to send messages through their guests, attire or absence altogether.

“Even though we're sitting down, we're not taking it sitting down,” Frankel said.