Third House Democrat announces plans to boycott State of the Union
A third House Democrat announced plans on Monday to boycott President Trump’s Tuesday State of the Union address, which will take place a day before the Senate is expected to acquit the president in his impeachment trial.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who also skipped Trump’s previous State of the Union addresses, said that he will not be attending the speech on Tuesday.
“I have chosen not to dignify Trump’s parade of lies about health care, his persistent exaggeration, and his personal attacks with my attendance at this year’s State of the Union Address. His appalling performances each day continue to justify that decision, and I have no doubt tomorrow night will be more of the same — even possibly worse,” Blumenauer said in a statement.
At least two other Democrats will also skip Tuesday’s State of the Union speech: Reps. Steve Cohen (Tenn.) and Frederica Wilson (Fla.).
It will be the third year in a row that Blumenauer, Cohen and Wilson have decided to opt out of attending Trump’s State of the Union address.
Cohen, who had long advocated for impeaching Trump and co-introduced articles of impeachment in 2017, told The Hill late last week that he had no intention to “go in a very cold room and hear a bunch of puff and lies.”
“I will not be a witness to puffery and prevarication flowing while our Constitution and our laws are disrespectfully and dangerously flouted,” Cohen added in a statement Monday.
At least six House Democrats made a point of not attending the State of the Union last year.
A total of 14 Democrats boycotted Trump’s address in 2018, which came shortly after the president caused a furor after referring to African nations as “s—thole countries.”
More than 60 Democrats also boycotted Trump’s inauguration in 2017, though all but two — Reps. Al Green (Texas) and Maxine Waters (Calif.) — still went to Trump’s joint address to Congress that year.
Wilson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, drew Trump’s ire in 2017 after she criticized his handling of a call to a widow of a fallen soldier. Trump tweeted that she was “wacky” and “killing the Democrat Party.”
Green, another longtime impeachment proponent who has not attended any of Trump’s joint addresses to Congress, told The Hill late last week that he was undecided about whether to go this year. As of Monday evening, he had not made his plans public.
Tuesday won’t be the first time that a president delivers a State of the Union address under the shadow of impeachment. Nor will it be the first time that members of the opposition party boycott the State of the Union address over it.
Then-President Bill Clinton delivered his State of the Union address in 1999 while his Senate impeachment trial over his affair with a White House intern was still ongoing. Clinton notably did not make any mention of impeachment during his speech, instead focusing on his domestic policy agenda.
Several GOP lawmakers boycotted Clinton’s address that year, arguing that he should have postponed the speech until after the Senate impeachment trial concluded.
One of the House Republicans serving as one of the 13 prosecutors in Clinton’s impeachment trial, then-Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), was among those who did not attend.
Barr said that while he would watch the speech on television, he believed it was “inappropriate and awkward for the president to make this speech directly to those sitting in judgment of him and those presenting the case against him in the Senate,” according to an Associated Press article from the time.
The Senate voted 51-49 on Friday to not call any witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial.
The vote paved the way for an expected Wednesday acquittal on the two articles of impeachment passed by the House in December that accused Trump of abusing his power and obstructing Congress over his efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate his political opponents.
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