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Legislators split on attending Inauguration

G. Green, K. Brady go; S. J. Lee, A. Green say “no”

WASHINGTON – Last Friday, Jan. 20 the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, was sworn into office in a ceremony at noon at the U.S. Capital.

Trump’s campaign, and his rhetoric since the election, have drawn criticism which continued into the inauguration itself.

Sixty Congressmen, all Democrats, declined to attend the ceremony, which is a traditional event they usually don’t miss. Most cited disagreement with Trump’s statements, or legislative agenda for his term, and by not attending they expressed their opposition. In addition, the day of the swearing in there were violent demonstrations through the city, and the next day, Saturday, massive crowds estimated at one-half million persons joined a demonstration termed the “Women’s March” to show Trump they disagreed with his statements on women’s rights, healthcare, immigration, reproductive rights, and more. This crowd of women, with some men, was estimated to exceed the crowd at the inauguration by twice the number.

Local legislators were split on their decision to attend the swearing in ceremonies, or not to attend. These included Gene Green, Kevin Brady, Ted Poe, and Brian Babin choosing to be at the ceremony, and Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green choosing not to go. Brady, Poe, and Babin are Republicans, the others are Democrats.

In his statement on attending, Republican Brady said “Today is a hopeful and historic day for the American people. Our new President laid out a new vision for our country-one that values problem solving over party politics and the people’s priorities over Washington’s.”

Brady continued, “I am confident that together, we will deliver what our workers, gamilies, and job creators have waited eight years for: results.”

Brady heads the influential Ways and Means Committee, making spending decisions, and will have a leading role in determining any new legislation for Healthcare.

Democrat Gene Green, in an interview with this newspaper, said he was attending “not to show my support for the new president, but to honor our history. We have the peaceful transfer of leadership as our tradition.”

Green is the ranking member on the Healthcare subcommittee of the Commerce committee, and will be in a position to help guide the writing of any new legislation to modify or replace Obamacare. He intends to fight to continue universal access, and to get the price of most drugs reduced for consumers.

Green characterized Trump as a narcistic bully, who must learn that governing is about working with others.

Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee announced at the last minute that she would not attend, and issued a lengthy statement about the campaign, Trumps failures to date, and her hopes for improvement by the time he delivers the State of the Union speech, which she said she will attend.

Part of her statement was “The call for unity and the embracing of all Americans simply did not come. The moments of attack continued….”

Lee cited in her statement her disappointment in Trump’s criticism of the intelligence community, and his divisive rhetoric. She also said she was disappointed that Trump holds consistent positions against civil rights and against voting rights.

After considering all the attacks on laws, government agencies, and individuals, she concluded, “I deliberated on my decision over a period of time. I am not boycotting this ceremonial inaugural event. I have decided in good conscience I cannot go!”

Democrat Al Green voiced similar concerns and disappointments. In a prepared statement, he said “Today, we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; on Friday, President-elect Trump will be sworn-in. For some time, I have been hearing from many constituents with varying points of view on the question of whether I will attend the inauguration. My response is Dr. King was right when he indicated: On some issues ‘cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But, conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when we must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because it is right.’

“I will not attend the inauguration because conscience says it is the right thing to do.”