At least six House Democrats now have said they will boycott President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, citing his divisive rhetoric and, in some cases, his reported use of a slur to describe African countries during a White House meeting on immigration.
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Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., announced over Twitter in early January that he would not attend the speech, later adding that he would send a guest in his place, an Oregon resident and recipient of protections under the DACA program for immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as children.
Blumenauer was followed a few days later by four more lawmakers including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights icon who blasted the president on ABC’s “This Week” as a racist.
“In good conscience, I cannot and will not sit there and listen at him as he gives the State of the Union address,” Lewis said.
The three other members of Congress who announced around the same time that they too would boycott the speech are Reps. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.
Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., announced Sunday that he also would not attend. “I cannot give this man, who does not respect me, the respect to be in that audience,” he said on MSNBC. “I will not be there.”
Additional lawmakers could end up boycotting Tuesday night’s speech. Rep. Cedric Richmond, the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, has said that his group has discussed boycotting the speech en masse. A spokesperson for the CBC did not immediately respond to a request for an update.