“I will listen to what he has to say today but I will not greet him and shake his hand,” Engel said in speech on the House floor early Tuesday afternoon, according to The Hill. “This goes beyond ideological and political differences.”
This is reportedly the first time in his 29 years of service in the House that Engel will not sit on an aisle seat to shake a president’s hand.
Engel explained his decision: “Unfortunately, since January 20th, the new administration has shown no interest in working with the Congress on both sides to tackle problems, including Russia’s unlawful interference in last year’s election. That’s why I’ve decided not to stand on the aisle of the House chamber to shake the president’s hand during this joint session of Congress, as I have done in the past through Democratic and Republican administrations alike.”
Engel previously called for a rigorous bipartisan investigation into Russia’s alleged involvement with the election, citing “far too many questions unanswered about this administration’s ties to Russia.”
Following a deep, months-long investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation determined that Trump had no ties to the Russian government.
According to several media outlets, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is, so far, the only Democrat to state she will not attend Trump’s joint address to Congress. Waters was one of nearly 70 Democrats who boycotted Trump’s historic inauguration on January 20.
Engel attended inauguration.
This time, instead of boycotting Trump’s speech, several of the same congressional Democrats who boycotted his inauguration plan to bring Muslim clients of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and recipients of former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to Tuesday’s speech.
They include Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
President Trump will also have special guests in the audience Tuesday evening.
According to Town Hall, three families who lost loved ones due to crimes committed by illegal immigrants will sit alongside First Lady Melania Trump:
Jessica Davis and Susan Oliver are the widows of California police officers Detective Michael Davis and Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver, who were killed in 2014 by an undocumented immigrant. The two officers have a bill named after them, which aims to increase cooperation between federal and local officials to enforce federal immigration laws.
In addition, Jamiel Shaw Sr., whose son, Jamiel Jr., was shot to death in 2008 in Los Angeles by an undocumented immigrant, was also invited. Shaw spoke at the Republican National Convention in July.