Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) announced on Monday that she won’t attend the Jan. 30 speech to a joint session of Congress due to Trump’s “racism,” citing recent comments in which he reportedly labeled Haiti and African nations “shithole countries.”
“I’m here on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to say I will not be going to the State of the Union,” Jayapal said in a video posted on her social media accounts. “I think it is absolutely unacceptable to see the racism and the hatred coming out the White House in a way in which this president is fueling the flames of divisiveness across our country.”
Jayapal said she will join other Democratic lawmakers who are skipping the address in hosting a “State of Our Union” gathering, at which they’ll discuss their “opposition to these racist policies that are being put out of the White House.”
The representative, who is serving her first term in Congress, is the fifth Democratic House member to announce plans to boycott Trump’s speech. The others are Reps. Maxine Waters of California, John Lewis of Georgia, Frederica Wilson of Florida and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.
More may participate in the protest. Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told CNN the group will discuss becoming part of the boycott at a Wednesday meeting.
Waters, in comments to MSNBC, strongly defended her decision to skip the speech.
“Why would I take my time to go and sit and listen to a liar?” Waters said, referring to Trump. “Someone who lies in the face of facts, someone who can change their tune day in and day out. What does he have to say that I would be interested in?”
She added: “He does not deserve my attention.”
A group of female House Democrats ― including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California ― plan to attend the speech wearing black to express their solidarity with the #MeToo movement that is shedding light on sexual misconduct.
“We are supporting the brave women in every industry and every corner of the country who are making their voices heard,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We are at a watershed moment in the nationwide fight against sexual harassment and discrimination, and we must continue to keep up the drumbeat of action for real change.”