In brief remarks on the House floor Tuesday, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY) said that he would not shake hands with President Donald Trump Tuesday night before his address to a joint session of Congress.
“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,” Engel said. “This will be the first time during my 29 years in the House that I have made this decision.”
Engel cited a number of stark differences he has with the president, including Trump’s attacks on the media, his moves to “gut” the Affordable Care Act, and his position on Vladimir Putin and Russia. He also believes Trump has “looked the other way as threats against the Jewish community have increased.”
“This isn’t part of our normal political discourse,” Engel said. “This goes beyond idealogical and political differences.”
Engel said he would attend the speech out of “deep respect for the presidency,” but will not shake the president’s hand.
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