“This will be the first time during my 29 years in the House that I have made this decision,” Engel said Tuesday of his choice to take a normal seat. “I have deep respect for the presidency and I will attend the joint session, but that respect between branches must be mutual.”
Usually, Jackson Lee arrives in the House chamber early to reserve herself an aisle seat. Not so this year. “She will be sitting [in] any available seat when she arrives,” Jackson Lee Chief of Staff Glenn Rushing emailed Tuesday afternoon.
These are not the only lawmakers who will break the tradition.
“I have no desire to sit on the aisle and shake the president’s hand,” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) recently told The Post, adding, “If [Trump] gets too out of order, I’ll walk the hell out.”
Engel said Trump’s divisive comments and policy decisions from the last month helped him come to his decision.
“The president has attacked the free press by calling it the enemy of the people. He’s rejected America’s traditional role welcoming refugees,” Eliot said Tuesday. “He’s cozied up to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin … and looked the other way when threats against the Jewish community have increased.”
Trump’s speech to Congress begins at about 9 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday.