WASHINGTON D.C.—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a senior member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, today delivered the following remarks in the House of Representatives:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have long prided myself on working across the aisle to get things done for my constituents and all the American people. That’s what most people want: a government that grapples with tough issues in a constructive way. Unfortunately, since January 20th, the new Administration has shown no interest in working with the Congress on both sides to tackle problems, including Russia’s unlawful interference in last year’s election. That’s why I’ve decided not to stand on the aisle of the House chamber to shake the President’s hand during this joint session of Congress, as I have done in the past through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. This will be the first time during my 29 years in the House that I’ve made this decision.
“I have deep respect for the Presidency, and I will attend the joint session. But that respect between branches must be mutual. The President has attacked the free press by calling it the ‘enemy of the people.’ He’s rejected America’s traditional role welcoming refugees, which have helped to make our country great. He’s cozied up to Vladimir Putin, the strongman who attacks our democracy. He’s moved to gut the Affordable Care Act and looked the other way when threats against the Jewish community have increased in recent year.
“This isn’t part of our normal political discourse. This goes beyond ideological and political differences. The President needs to work with all people. And therefore, I will listen to what he has to say today, but I will not greet him and shake his hand. Thank you.”