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Here’s How Maxine Waters, Kirsten Gillibrand, Ruth Bader Ginsburg And Others Will Respond To Trump’s State Of The Union

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Tomorrow, January 30, President (ugh) Trump (ughhh) will deliver a State of the Union address, looking back at his first year in office (ughhhhh) and setting plans for his second (UGHHHHHH).

Those who oppose Trump are responding in various ways.

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This morning, January 29, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced on Twitter that she will attend the State of the Union and will take San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz as her guest, a move intended to highlight Trump’s failure to support Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. Gillibrand tweeted, “Throughout the crisis in Puerto Rico, Mayor Cruz has shown extraordinary leadership and fearless advocacy for her city. I hope Mayor Cruz’s presence at #SOTU will remind the president and my colleagues in Congress of our urgent responsibility to help Puerto Rico fully recover and rebuild. Our fellow citizens must not be forgotten or left behind.”

Cruz retweeted Gillibrand’s comments and added, “More than 300k have left PR; 35% still w/out electricity; just today helped a school in Morovis w no water/elec and no milk for children. Pres Trump can support @SenSanders @SenWarren @SenGillibrand @LuisGutierrez @NydiaVelazquez in their efforts to have PR debt wiped out. This is a violation of our human rights. Period.”

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and over 24 other Democrats will attend the State of the Union and bring DREAMers and other immigrants as their guests, reports Politico. It's a call for a path to citizenship for DREAMers and other undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children. 

Representative Maxine Waters will not attend the State of the Union. Instead, she will speak directly after Trump’s State of the Union on a new BET program called Angela Rye’s State of the Union, reports BuzzFeed. The new quarterly program is part of a partnership between BET and Angela Ryes, a Democratic strategist, and is intended to report on the news with a focus on issues affecting black Americans.

“Queen Maxine is going to hit the facts quick, she’s going to do it as only she can, but we’re not going to linger over his nonsense,” Rye told The Root about the program. Waters has previously called Trump “the most dishonorable and despicable human being to ever serve in the office of the president,” so we’re sure she won’t hold back.

Other Democrats skipping the State of the Union include Representatives Earl Blumenauer, John Lewis, Frederica Wilson, and Pramila Jayapal. Wilson has said she is not attending because of Trump’s comments calling Haiti and African countries “shithole countries.” "To go would be to honor the president and I don't think he deserves to be honored at this time after being so hateful towards black people and then black countries, Haiti and the whole continent of Africa," she told CNN. "It hurts, and he has brought the White House to the lowest and I don't think he needs to be honored with my presence."

The Democratic Women’s Working Group, led by Representatives Lois Frankel, Brenda Lawrence, and Jackie Speier, are calling on members of Congress — including Republicans — to attend the State of the Union wearing black, reports Racked. At least 65 will participate. It’s meant as a statement in solidarity with #MeToo and #TimesUp movements against sexual harassment and assault — and will also draw attention to the 20 sexual harassment and assault accusations against Trump himself.

But “the issue is much bigger than Donald Trump,” Frankel told Racked. “This is a message to the hotel workers who are getting jumped and the waitresses who are getting pinched and the women on the farm who may be assaulted by their bosses.”

Racked also reports that Congressional Black Caucus members will wear small red pins to honor Recy Taylor, a black woman who was raped by six white men in 1944 and refused to stay silent about it. She died late last year and was also honored by Oprah at the Golden Globes. “She was one of the first women, when we talk about #MeToo and Time’s Up, at a time when she didn’t have a voice she used her voice and fought back,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who is organizing the plans to wear the pins, told Racked.

Representative Joseph Kennedy III will deliver the official Democratic party response, and Representative Elizabeth Guzman will deliver the official Democratic Spanish language response, reports the Washington Post.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will not attend the State of the Union, reports CNN. Instead, she has two speaking engagements planned, one at Roger Williams University's law school and another at a synagogue in Providence, Rhode Island. Ginsburg hasn’t spoken about the significance of her absence, and it’s not unusual for justices to skip them — but Ginsburg attended all of President Obama’s State of the Union speeches and was critical of Trump during the 2016 election, calling him a “faker” with “no consistency” and an “ego," so it’s not too much of a leap to see her absence as a deliberate move.

Outside of government, celebrities and activists will hold a “People’s State of the Union” event at New York’s Town Hall on Monday night, which will also be livestreamed, reports CNN. Organized by We Stand United and Move On, it will feature performances by Andra Day and Common and speeches from Whoopi Goldberg, Cynthia Nixon, Michael Moore, Lee Daniels and Rosie Perez. Also present will be organizations including Planned Parenthood, Indivisible Guide and People for the American Way 

top photo: official House of Reprenstatives photo of Maxine Waters, via Wikimedia Commons

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Erika W. Smith is BUST's digital editorial director. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @erikawynn and email her at erikawsmith@bust.com.

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