POLITICS

Unlike Their House Colleagues, These Senate Democrats Are Attending Trump’s Inauguration

"It’s about the peaceful transition of power,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

WASHINGTON ― Nearly 50 House Democrats are skipping President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, most of whom are boycotting the historic event over the businessman’s divisive campaign tactics and his feud with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

Attitudes among their colleagues in the upper chamber, however, are much more reserved.

All of the Senate Democrats who spoke with The Huffington Post on Tuesday said they intended to attend Trump’s inauguration, despite the steady stream of Democratic lawmakers announcing their opposition to the event.

“For me ― I’ve gone every year whether it’s a Republican or Democrat, and to me, it’s about the peaceful transition of power,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), whose state Trump won by a narrow margin. “But I think it’s disgusting what the president-elect said about congressman John Lewis.”

The civil rights champion drew the ire of Trump last week after he called him an illegitimate president who was elected with the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump responded on Twitter, calling Lewis “all talk, talk, talk ― no action,” prompting more Democrats to announce they would boycott the inauguration.

Stabenow said she did not fault her House colleagues for their decision to skip the event.

“I think it’s an individual decision and I totally respect what someone decides,” she said.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is also planning on going, agreed. He told HuffPost that “everyone makes their own decision.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said that he is attending the inauguration, and quipped that his House colleagues had eased demand for highly sought-after tickets to the event.

“There’s a lot of people in West Virginia needing tickets. If they have some extra tickets, then West Virginians could use them,” he chuckled.

Manchin, who has been among the most Trump-friendly Democrats, called the spat between the president-elect and Lewis “a real shame.”

“The whole thing is sad. John Lewis is an icon. I think all of us love him and respect him. I think that hopefully John wouldn’t have said that,” he said. “I think President Trump is elected and he’s legitimate. The process is over and we’ve got to go about governing this country.”

Other Democrats shuffling in and out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on the nomination of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) as interior secretary on Tuesday also said they would be attending the inauguration, including Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, and Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington. Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) also said she would be going to the event. 

Aides to Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Chris Coons (Del.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) told HuffPost they would be attending. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is also attending, per his office.

The political calculus on the question of whether to attend is much tougher for Senate Democrats than for House Democrats, many of whom represent liberal districts. In 2018, Democrats will be defending 10 senators up for re-election in states that Trump carried.

This article has been updated to reflect that Shaheen will be attending the inauguration. 

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