Metro-East News

Amid boycott, local congressmen say inauguration important to ‘peaceful transition’

More than 40 U.S. House Democrats will boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday to protest the president-elect’s views on topics ranging from immigration to alleged tampering by Russia in the election.

But local House Republicans say they are disappointed their Democratic colleagues are boycotting the inauguration. No U.S. Senators have said they will boycott the inauguration.

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, said inauguration is a day that is “important” to celebrating a smooth transfer of power. He plans to attend the event.

“I’ve attended the swearing-in of Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush as well as Barack Obama, and what I’ve learned is that attending the inauguration is not about agreeing with the man whose hand is raised at noon, but about celebrating the legitimate and peaceful transfer of power in our republic,” Shimkus said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, will also attend the inauguration. He said he thinks elected representatives not attending to inaugural is “terrible” and respect is due to both the president and president-elect.

“You should respectfully attend,” Bost said. “If you choose to protest by not attending, I think it’s a shame for what you’re doing to try to unite this nation back (together) after a brutal election process.”

Bost said he has no idea what Trump will say during his inaugural address but said he hopes he speaks about job growth.

“I think the most important thing is how he’s going to work to try to unite us behind programs that would reduce government burden and pressure that stops job growth, and to make sure we are the best at competing in the world, which we are, and we will do everything we can to put as many people to work as we possibly can,” Bost said. “The other issues that out there, it doesn’t matter if it’s border, it doesn’t if it’s social programs, it doesn’t matter if its health care, all of those get better if we put people to work.”

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said he believes his colleagues’ decision to boycott the event is “disrespectful.” Friday’s inauguration will mark Davis’ fourth time attending the event, and the second as a congressman.

“This is about putting America first; it’s about our peaceful transition of power. It’s an example that should be set for many other countries that don’t have peaceful transitions of power,” Davis said. “Four years ago when Barack Obama was sworn-in, I didn’t think for an instant of boycotting that. It was less about who I supported, which was not Barack Obama, and more about showing respect for our commander-in-chief.”

A nationwide debate erupted after Trump criticized Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who said he won’t attend the inauguration because he doesn’t see Trump as a “legitimate” president, given allegations that Russian interfered in the election.

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis told NBC News. “You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong.”

Trump responded via Twitter, saying Lewis “should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart.” The President-elect said in another Tweet that Lewis is “All talk, talk, talk.”

But Trump’s message regarding Lewis didn’t resound well with lawmakers like California Rep. Judy Chu, who said she will boycott the inauguration — one of at least 44 who said they wouldn’t go.

Illinois Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez from Chicago was one of the first lawmakers to announce he would not be attending the inauguration. He explained his decision in a speech on the House floor in January.

“We all heard the tape when Donald Trump was bragging – bragging – about grabbing women by their private parts without their consent,” he said. “It is something I can never un-hear.”

Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin said he was planning to attend inauguration out of “respect” for the new commander-in-chief. After allegations of connections with Russia, conflicts of interest and “offensive Tweets,” however, Pocan said he would not attend the event.

Here is a list of Representatives who have said they will not attend the inauguration, according to USA Today and the Washington Post:

▪ Arizona: Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva

▪ California: Rep. Jared Huffman, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, Rep. Ted Lieu, Rep. Mark Takano, Rep. Judy Chu, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Rep. Karen Boss, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Grace Napolitano, Rep. Raul Ruiz and Rep. Jerry McNerney

▪ Florida: Rep. Darren Soto

▪ Georgia: Rep. John Lewis

▪ Illinois: Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez

▪ Kentucky: Rep. John Yarmuth

▪ Maine: Rep. Chellie Pingree

▪ Maryland: Rep. Anthony G. Brown

▪ Massachusetts: Rep. Katherine Clark

▪ Michigan: Rep. John Conyers

▪ Minnesota: Rep. Keith Ellison

▪ Mississippi: Rep. Bennie Thompson

▪ Missouri: Rep. Lacy Clay

▪ New Jersey: Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman and Rep. Jerrold Nadler

▪ New York: Rep. Jose E. Serrano, Rep. Yvette Clark, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez and Rep. Adriano Espaillat

▪ Ohio: Rep. Marcia Fudge

▪ Oregon: Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Rep. Kurt Schrader and Rep. Peter A. DeFazio

▪ Pennsylvania: Rep. Dwight Evans and Rep. Brendan Boyle

▪ Tennessee: Rep. Steve Cohen

▪ Texas: Rep. Al Green

▪ Virginia: Rep. Don Beyer

▪ Washington: Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Rep. Adam Smith

▪ Wisconsin: Rep. Mark Pocan

Reporter Joseph Bustos contributed to this article.