At least five Democratic Representatives will boycott President Trump’s State of the Union address on Jan. 30.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) became the fifth Democrat to say she would skip the State of the Union, citing “all the racism coming from the White House.”
Jayapal joins her Democratic colleagues John Lewis (Ga.), Frederica Wilson (Fla.), Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), and Maxine Waters (Calif.) in boycotting the speech. Some of the lawmakers who won’t attend will instead host an alternative State of the Union — a meeting “to talk about our opposition to these racist policies that are being put out of the White House and to make sure we put out our own aggressive vision of what our America looks like as we take it back,” according to Jayapal.
Rep. John Lewis cited President Trump’s comments about Haiti and African countries in his announcement that he would not attend the speech. Rep. Maxine Waters was more blunt, asking “Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar?” Rep. Frederica Wilson made headlines last year when she criticised President Trump for remarks he made during a call to the widow of a fallen soldier.
Some female members of Congress who will attend the State of the Union have signaled their intent to wear black as a statement against sexual harassment. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said members of the Democratic Women’s Working Group were encouraging lawmakers of all parties and genders to participate, but the protest is likely to be seen as a direct critique of President Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct.