The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Democratic lawmakers boycotting Trump’s first State of the Union

Opinion | What if the American public, not President Trump, defined the State of the Union address? (Video: Adriana Usero, Danielle Kunitz/The Washington Post)

Millions of Americans are tuning in to President Trump's first State of the Union address, and most of Washington's power elite are in attendance as he addresses the joint session of Congress. But a number of lawmakers aren't joining them.

Dozens of Democratic lawmakers skipped Trump's inauguration in protest. And following a year of the president battling and battering those on the left, several of them said they had no interest in hearing Trump's view on the condition of the United States.

These women are protesting Trump’s speech with the ‘State of Our Union’

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)

The Democrat boycotted Trump's inauguration and says he will do the same Tuesday night for his State of the Union speech, tweeting:

“Rather than listening to another destructive, divisive speech by Trump, I will not attend this year's annual address to Congress. Instead, like I did during his inauguration, I'll be working at home listening to Oregonians about what they think about the State of the Union! #SOTU.”

Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (Fla.)

The lawmaker whose South Florida district includes many immigrants from Haiti and predominantly black countries tweeted that she wouldn't be attending after Trump reportedly called their home nations “shithole countries.”

“I cannot in good consciousness attend the #SOTU address after the president went so low in his remarks about Haiti & African nations. It would be hypocrisy to go to an event at which he is honored,” she tweeted.

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (N.Y.)

The New Yorker's district is home to sizable populations of black Americans, including immigrants. He tweeted:

“He does not respect me or the communities I represent, so I cannot in good conscience sit idly on the House floor and listen to his scripted speech. #SOTU.”

Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)

“At this junction, I do not plan to attend the State of the Union,” Lewis said on MSNBC this month after Trump's comments on African nations and Haiti.

“I cannot in all good conscience be in a room with what he has said about so many Americans. I just cannot do it,” he added.

Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.)

The frequent critic of Trump will appear on BET News “Angela Rye’s State of the Union” to respond to the president's speech.

“Why would I take my time and go and sit and listen to a liar? To someone who lies in the face of facts,” she said on MSNBC after being asked if she planned to attend. “What does he have to say that I would be interested in?”

“I don't trust him. I don't appreciate him,” Waters added. “He does not deserve my attention.”

Rep. Bobby L. Rush (Ill.)

The lawmaker told the Chicago Sun-Times that he had no interest in watching Trump be dishonest about his successes.

“This has been the most chaotic, divisive, and incompetent first year of any administration and I will not sit and watch as Trump pretends that he's off to a successful start. He's not,” Rush said in a statement Monday.

The Sun-Times also reported that Rep. Danny K. Davis (Ill.) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) would not attend.

Schakowsky said she did not want to be in attendance to witness more of Trump's “divisive” behavior.

“The American people have been subjected to a year of racist and erratic and divisive behavior,” she said.

Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)

The San Francisco Bay area lawmaker said Trump’s disparaging comments about Haiti and African nations were latest proof that the president promotes a racist worldview.

Rep. Al Green (Tex.)

The lawmaker who has often called on Trump to be impeached said his boycott was in the spirit of other historic protests.

"Tonight, I will do something that is as old as the Boston Tea Party, righteous as the Civil Rights Movement, honorable as the Women's Suffrage movement and as necessary as the LGBTQ rights movement," he said in a statement. "All of these actions were done as matters of principle and conviction. Therefore, tonight, as a matter of principle and conviction, I will boycott the State of the Union to send a message of disapproval to an unfit president."

Rep. Juan Vargas (Calif.)

The lawmaker pointed to the president's comments about people of color and immigrants as reasons for his absence.

Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)

The Democrat said he will not be in attendance to listen to Trump, who is “unworthy of the podium.”

“The current president is the antithesis of that sensibility: a man who appears determined to tear government down, harm the most vulnerable, benefit the rich and destroy foundational institutions such as the Department of Justice and the FBI," Cohen said.

“The president is unworthy of the podium, the position and the power.”

Rep. Albio Sires (N.J.)

The Cuban immigrant said many of the Americans he represents have been offended by Trump's comments.

“The congressman is not attending the State of the Union because many of his constituents are offended by the president's rhetoric and behavior,” said Erica Daughtrey, a spokeswoman for Sires.