Schumer reminds colleagues to respect decorum at State of the Union speech

Schumer reminds colleagues to respect decorum at State of the Union speech
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell launches ad touting role in passing coronavirus relief Joe Biden can't lead the charge from his home in Delaware Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill MORE (D-N.Y.) reminded Democratic colleagues at a lunch meeting Tuesday not to take the bait if President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Trump and former vice president will have phone call about coronavirus Esper: Military personnel could help treat coronavirus patients 'if push comes to shove' Schumer calls for military official to act as medical equipment czar MORE tries to provoke them at the State of the Union address, scheduled to start at 9 p.m. Tuesday. 

Tensions are running high after two weeks of the Senate impeachment trial and Democrats think there’s a good chance the president will toss a few political grenades in his speech, even though Republican lawmakers have urged Trump to focus on policy accomplishments. 

“Schumer talked about the etiquette of not going crazy. He and [Speaker] Nancy [Pelosi] (D-Calif.) were talking and he said, if you don’t want to go, don’t go,” said a Democratic senator, who said the advice from Schumer was that it would be better to skip the speech than to be caught on camera doing something embarrassing.

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There’s some concern among Democrats that Trump may try to provoke their members with a choice phrase or two at Tuesday’s speech.

“Decorum to me is critically important to me,” said a second Democratic senator, who added the subject of decorum was discussed at the lunch. “I’ve heard some senators mention it."

Republican Rep. Joe WilsonAddison (Joe) Graves WilsonThe myth about Puerto Rican statehood that won't go away Overnight Defense: Republicans sound alarm on Taliban deal | Trump speaks with Taliban leader | 19 states sue over border wall funding | Pentagon pushes back on NY Times report about coronavirus response House Republicans sound the alarm on Taliban deal MORE (R-S.C.) caused an uproar at President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress in 2009 when he yelled “You lie!” as the president talked about health care reform. 

Presidents usually recite long lists of policy proposals and accomplishments at their State of the Union addresses leaving reporters and other media analysts to focus closely on the reactions of lawmakers to liven up their coverage. 

Big applause lines are noted as well as what lawmakers decide to sit in their seats and not clap along with their colleagues.

Sometimes observers even try to read the lips of senators on the floor, as happened to Sen. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenShocking ignorance about the Holocaust illustrates the need to pass the Never Again Education Act Overnight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Bipartisan Senate resolution would urge UN to renew Iran arms embargo, travel restrictions MORE (D-Nev.) at last year’s State of the Union when some amateur sleuths thought they detected her saying “Watch your ass” after Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) applauded one of Trump’s lines. 

Rosen later denied she had said that but the episode is a reminder to Democrats who are fuming over Trump’s imminent acquittal on two articles of impeachment that their reactions Tuesday will be closely scrutinized.