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

Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) reminded Democratic colleagues at a lunch meeting Tuesday not to take the bait if President Trump 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.

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 Wilson (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 Rosen (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. 

Tags Chuck Schumer Donald Trump Jacky Rosen Joe Wilson SOTU State of the Union

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