Democratic freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts both announced on Tuesday that they will not attend President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.
Ocasio-Cortez, who has become a celebrated progressive icon and taken on an outsized profile for a first-term member of Congress, explained her decision in a tweet, saying that she did not want to “use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution.”
“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. None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it. Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union,” she wrote.
Pressley described her decision as a boycott and called the speech by the President, which will take place at the Capitol on Tuesday evening, as a “sham.”
“On the eve of Senate Republicans covering up transgressions and spreading misinformation, I cannot in good conscience attend a sham State of the Union when I have seen firsthand the damage Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric and policies have inflicted on those I love and those I represent,” Pressley said in a statement.
“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, and contempt for our constitution – strong-arming a sham impeachment trial in the Senate. This presidency is not legitimate,” she said.
Trump’s annual address to Congress takes place this year with Washington in a state of heightened tension as the Senate impeachment trial of the President continues. The Senate is expected to take a final vote on acquittal or conviction on Wednesday and the President is all but guaranteed to be acquitted with votes from the Republican majority in the upper chamber.
Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley won’t be the only Democratic lawmakers skipping the State of the Union.
Rep. Maxine Waters of California was among the Democrats who announced on Tuesday that she will not attend as well.
“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!” Waters tweeted.
Fellow Democratic Rep. Al Green of Texas also said he would not attend, citing criticism of the President in a tweet explaining his decision.
In a statement, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a close ally of Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley, affirmed that she would be attending, but said that she would be there “not for Donald Trump” but rather to “uplift the stories and work of my guests.”
“I will be in attendance at tonight’s State of the Union address, but not for Donald Trump. I will be in attendance to uplift the stories and work of my guests, Carly Fraser and Danielle Atkinson,” Tlaib said.
She went on to say, “Carly and Danielle are incredible advocates in our community who are fighting to bring awareness to the need for lower prescription drug costs, more medical research funding, equitable maternal and infant health care, paid sick leave, and many more important issues. Danielle and Carly exemplify the quality of leadership that this impeached president is sorely lacking.”