More Than Ten Democrats Boycotting Trump's State of the Union


Frederica Wilson / Getty Images
January 29, 2018

A growing list of Democratic lawmakers have announced they will boycott President Donald Trump's State of the Union address over his alleged comments about Haiti and African nations earlier this month, his perceived slights towards communities of color, and various policy differences with the administration.

In a video recorded by Now This News, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.) became one of the first members of Congress to announce his intention to skip the president's address on Jan. 30. Blumenauer's cited reasons for his boycott appeared to be Trump's perceived disrespect for the office of the president and disagreement over the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which gives legal protections to illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children.

"I'm not going to Donald Trump's State of the Union speech. I respect the office of the president, Donald Trump does not," Blumenauer stated. "He sows discord and discontent…It is embarrassing to watch. I’m not going to waste my time,"

"I will spend that evening at home. People who care about the state of the union, who care about 800,000 undocumented young people who are in a state of limbo," Blumenauer added.

On Jan. 22, hours after the Senate voted to resolve the government shutdown, Blumenauer disclosed on Twitter that he would be sending a "Dreamer," a DACA program enrollee, in his place to "remind" Trump that "these are real people ... who are vital to our communities."

"Since I won't be attending the #SOTU, I'll be sending an Oregon DREAMer in my place to remind Trump that these are real people with families and jobs, who are vital to our communities. They deserve certainty and protection," Blumenauer tweeted.

Shortly after Blumenauer's initial announcement, Democratic Rep. John Lewis (Ga.) told MSNBC that he too would boycott the president's speech over his belief that Trump has racism "in his DNA."

This is not the first time Lewis has refused to attend an event with the president. In December, Lewis canceled a scheduled appearance at the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum because of the president's planned attendance. Lewis has also said he believes the Trump presidency is illegitimate.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) told MSNBC's Joy Reid that she would not attend Trump's State of the Union because of her belief that the president was a "liar" and undeserving of her attention.

"Why would I take my time and sit and go listen to a liar. Someone who lies in the face of facts. Someone who can change their tune day in and day out." Waters said when asked by Reid if she would attend. "What does he have to say that I would be interested in? I don't trust him, I don't appreciate him...he does not deserve my attention,"

Waters has been vocal in her support for the impeachment of the president.

Also on Jan. 12, Democratic Rep. Albio Sires (N.J.) released a statement declaring his refusal to attend the State of the Union because he felt personally insulted by the president's comments and actions in regards to immigration. Sires is himself a Cuban immigrant.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.) took to Twitter over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday to declare she also would boycott the president's speech. Explaining her decision, Jayapal cited the president's alleged comments towards foreign nations and the overall "racism and hatred coming out of the White House."

"I think it is absolutely unacceptable to see the racism and the hatred coming out of the White House. The way in which this president is fueling the flames of divisiveness across our country, demeaning entire countries, calling them remarkably vulgar terms," Jaypal said.

"I will be joining other members of Congress in not going to the State of the Union. And we will have our own state of our union to talk about our opposition to these racist policies that are being put out of the White House and to make sure that we put forward our own progressive vision, of what our America looks like, as we take it back," Jayapal added.

On Jan. 16, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D., Fla.) announced she could not "in good conscience" attend the State of the Union after the president allegedly referred to certain countries as "s–tholes" during an immigration meeting with bipartisan leaders at the White House.

"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," Wilson tweeted.

Wilson is no stranger to clashing with Trump and his administration. In October of 2017, Wilson claimed the president upset the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson during a phone call to offer his condolences on the untimely passing of her husband. Johnson was killed during an ambush on U.S. and Nigerien soldiers by Islamic militants in Tongo Tongo, Niger.

Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) announced on Jan. 26 her refusal to attend the Trump's address because she did not want to "normalize" the president's "loathsome language and actions."

"I will be boycotting President Trump’s State of the Union this year because I refuse to normalize President Donald Trump and his loathsome language and actions. We cannot accept this as the new normal," Schakowsky tweeted.

"I will be boycotting President Trump’s State of the Union this year because I refuse to normalize President Donald Trump and his loathsome language and actions. We cannot accept this as the new normal," Schakowsky elaborated further on her decision in a released statement.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif.) announced on Jan. 25, that she would skip the President's address because of his alleged comments in regards to Haiti, African nations, and immigration.

On Sunday, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.) announced on MSNBC's "Politics Nation" with Al Sharpton that he too would boycott the president's speech.

"For the sake of the institution, I cannot give this man, who does not respect me, the respect to be in that audience," Meeks said.

Following his appearance on MSNBC, Meeks wrote on Twitter that he would not attend the speech in the House chamber but he would "monitor" what the president had to say and respond.

"I just announced on #PoliticsNation that I will NOT attend the State of the Union. Instead, I’ll monitor this President from my office. His current comments about black unemployment, which remains unacceptably high, is just another sign that he doesn’t get it," Meeks tweeted.

Meeks has been no stranger to controversy, both personal and professional, in the past. In 2011, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a DC-based government watchdog group, named Meeks "one of the most corrupt members of Congress" for questionable relationships with the Venezuelan government and financial impropriety. In December, it was revealed taxpayer funds were used to settle a lawsuit filed against Meeks by a former staffer, who alleged that she was fired from the congressman's office after suing a donor for sexual harassment.

On Monday, Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush (Ill.) told CBS Chicago that he would boycott the State of the Union because he believed "this has been the most chaotic, divisive, and incompetent first year of any administration." Rush said he refused to "sit and watch as Trump pretends that he’s off to a successful start."

On the heels of Rush's announcement, Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.) said he too would skip the president's speech. In a statement, Davis said he would be staying in Chicago to meet with constituents and protest the president's "rhetoric and actions."

"I cannot in good conscience stand silently by and watch generations of struggle for equal rights, for civil, human and voting rights, for the rights of women, for social and economic justice be undone from the highest office in the land," Davis said.

UPDATED 10:37 A.M.: This story was updated to include the intentions of Reps. Lee, Rush, Davis, and Sires to skip the president's address.