The president’s State of the Union address to Congress isn’t all about the speech that will flicker across the teleprompter. Members of Congress and others will be making loud and clear statements from the House chamber, too — often without saying a word.
One way they’re doing that is by boycotting altogether. Among those saying “nahhh” to witnessing President Trump’s performance in person are Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a number of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), and Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.). And for those who do show, some will be eschewing the typical cable-TV-friendly bright colors they often sport and instead wear black to call attention to sexual harassment and assault, the way Hollywood actresses did at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this month.
Others are using their choice of guest as a way to be heard. Lawmakers are given one extra ticket, and while many invite a spouse or a family member, they sometimes seek out a constituent, boldfaced or otherwise, to accompany them instead to underscore their own policy points. This year, many Dems are inviting immigrants and “dreamers,” the undocumented people brought to the United States as children who are now the subject of debate on Capitol Hill, victims of sexual assault or people affected by the devastating storms that hit Puerto Rico.
A few of the more notable guests are San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — a frequent target of President Trump’s Twitter barbs — who will accompany Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) is bringing Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian-born immigrant who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in National Football League players and who was played by Will Smith in the movie “Concussion.”
And Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) has reportedly invited the niece of Recy Taylor, the woman whose rape Oprah Winfrey mentioned in her impassioned Golden Globes speech.
According to a list compiled by Roll Call, viewers might spy a few other famous faces in the chamber. Bill Nye, known as TV personality “the Science Guy” and a vocal critic of Trump’s stance on climate change, is a guest of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), and Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth will attend courtesy of Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.). Werth’s connection? Fun fact: When he’s not on the field, he’s apparently an organic farmer in Illinois.