Updated Feb 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy

AOC among the House Democrats boycotting Trump's State of the Union

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that she will be among a group of at least nine Democrats who are boycotting President Trump's State of the Union address.

Why it matters: The decision to boycott the address after attending last year reflects the cognitive dissonance felt by some Democrats about granting Trump a state ceremony after having accused him of being a threat to the Constitution and national security.

Other Democratic members of Congress who are boycotting for the first time include:

  • Rep. Al Green (D-Texas)
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)
  • Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.)
  • House Financial Services Chair Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
  • House Homeland Security Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.)

Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) and Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) will also skip the State of the Union for the third year in a row.

What they're saying... Ocasio-Cortez wrote in a tweet: "After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution."

  • Pressley also tweeted: "The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution. I cannot in good conscience attend tonight's sham [State of the Union]."
  • Green tweeted: "Because of an impeached, reckless, ruthless, lawless, shameless, corrupt, & unapologetically bigoted president - who is still engaging in a coverup, the state of the House, the state of the Senate, and the #StateOfTheUnion are divided. I will NOT attend #SOTU2020."
  • Waters tweeted: "To think that I would attend the #SOTU📷 to hear the message of an IMPEACHED president is a thought that in no way would be consistent w/ my fight and struggle against this dishonorable president. I will certainly NOT be there!"

The other side: Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib, freshmen members of "The Squad" along with Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley, tweeted that they will attend the State of the Union.

  • "I am attending on behalf of all of those targeted by this President to say, ‘We are greater than hate,’" Omar tweeted. "My presence tonight is resistance."
  • "I will be in attendance to uplift the stories and work of my guests, Carly Fraser and Danielle Atkinson," Tlaib tweeted. Both Fraser and Atkinson are health care activists.

Between the lines: Trump's address will come one night before the Senate votes to acquit him of impeachment charges.

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President Trump will give his third State of the Union address tonight at 9 p.m. ET, seven weeks after he was impeached by the House of Representatives and one day before he's set to be acquitted by the Senate.

Why it matters: The president typically strikes a more measured tone during formal, teleprompter-guided speeches like the State of the Union, but all bets could be off as an emboldened Trump looks ahead to a scorched earth election campaign.

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Inside the room: Tension permeated the House chamber from the outset. Trump snubbed a handshake from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, only to be met with a retaliatory slight of his own when Pelosi failed to apply the honorific language typically used to introduce presidents at joint sessions of Congress.