When President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday, he won’t have his customary audience of supporters to cheer him on. Instead, he will make his remarks in the presence of a record number of congresswomen — almost all of whom are Democrats — and two women immigrants who once worked at his upscale New Jersey golf club. The wave of women — many wearing white to honor the suffragettes who came before them — will serve as a inescapable reminder of the so-called “blue wave” that returned the House to a Democratic majority.
Sitting behind Trump will be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, an outspoken Trump critic who forced him to delay his State of the Union speech after he kept the government closed for over a month during a failed bid at extracting funding for for a border wall with Mexico. The House Democratic women’s working group has called on women to wear “suffragette white” to the event, to show their support for equal pay, reproductive rights, and gender equality. In a statement, House Democratic women’s working group chair Louis Frankel said they hoped to “send a message of solidarity that we’re not going back on our hard-earned rights.”
Watching the event from the gallery will be Victorina Morales and Sandra Diaz, two former Trump employees who allege that supervisors at his golf club hired them despite knowing they were illegal immigrants. Morales, a guest of New Jersey Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, has said that she respects Trump but that she decided to speak out to contradict his repeated characterizations of immigrants as violent, job-stealing criminals. Diaz, who is now a legal U.S. resident, has expressed similar sentiments.
“Forget about the wall, stop separating families and focus on immigration reform,” Morales told The Associated Press.
After Trump finishes his speech, a response will be delivered by Atlanta politician Stacey Abrams– who will become the first black woman to deliver the Democratic rebuttal to the annual address. In November, Abrams, 45, narrowly lost her bid to become Georgia governor — and the nation’s first African-American woman governor — after Trump ally Brian Kemp won a contested election in which he stood accused of abusing his position as Georgia secretary of state to cull minorities from state voting rolls. During her speech, Abrams has pledged to speak about the importance of inclusion “at a moment when our nation needs to hear from leaders who can unite for a common purpose.”
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