Congress Is Bringing Protest Guests to the State of the Union, From San Juan’s Mayor to Dreamers

WASHINGTON (The Washington Post) -

The president’s State of the Union address to Congress isn’t all about the speech that will flicker across the teleprompter. Members of Congress and others will be making loud-and-clear statements from the House chamber, too — often without saying a word.

One way they’re doing that is by boycotting altogether. Among those saying “nahhh” to witnessing President Donald Trump’s performance in person are Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and a number of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Reps. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., Frederica S. Wilson, D-Fla., and Gregory W. Meeks, D-N.Y.

Others are using their choice of guest as a way to be heard. Lawmakers are given one extra ticket, and while many invite a spouse or a family member, they sometimes seek out a constituent — boldfaced or otherwise — to accompany them instead to underscore their own policy points. This year, many Dems are inviting immigrants and “dreamers,” the young undocumented people brought to the United States by their parents and now the subject of debate on Capitol Hill, or people affected by the devastating storms that hit Puerto Rico.

A few of the more notable guests are San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — a frequent target of President Trump’s Twitter barbs — who will accompany Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. Rep. Ami Bera, D-Calif., is bringing Bennet Omalu, the Nigerian-born immigrant who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy in NFL players.