House Democratic leaders are urging members to be on their best behavior Tuesday night, hoping to avoid any kind of “You lie!” moment when President Donald Trump delivers his prime time address on Capitol Hill.
“I think we have to deal with this in the utmost dignity. We cannot become them; we don’t like what they did to our president,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during a closed-door caucus meeting Tuesday morning.
“We cannot be out-classed by Donald Trump, that would be the worst of all outcomes.”
Pelosi was referring to the famous moment in 2009 when South Carolina GOP Rep. Joe Wilson heckled President Barack Obama during his joint address to Congress. Wilson shouted “You lie!” when the president said Obamacare wouldn’t provide insurance for undocumented immigrants.
Democratic leaders have said they don’t expect any outbursts or protests on their side but some members had asked that behavior protocol be discussed at today’s caucus meeting.
“In terms of State of the Union addresses…the only rude moment that I recognize came from Republican members of Congress towards our then president,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (N.Y.) said Tuesday. “I don’t think we necessarily need to fall into that. I think that what we can demonstrate by our lack of enthusiasm, by our lack of applause, but respectfully being there…sends that same message.”
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) announced during the caucus meeting she wouldn’t be attending tonight’s speech, saying she can’t “contain her enthusiasm” against Trump, according to sources in the room.
Waters has been one of the most vocal Democratic critics of Trump, even saying her “greatest desire” was to lead Trump “right into impeachment.”
So far, Waters is the only Democrat to announce she’s skipping Trump’s speech. More than 60 lawmakers sat out his inauguration in January.