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Westchester Congressman Won't Save Traditional Aisle Seat For Trump Speech

Eliot Engel
Eliot Engel Video Credit: HFACDemocrats

Since first being elected to the House of Representatives in 1988, Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel, whose 16th district includes much of Southern Westchester, has been a familiar face during State of the Union addresses and other presidential speeches to Congress.

That's because Engel has rushed to get an aisle seat so that he is sure to be one of the members of the Congress to shake the president's hand as he enters or exits -- and sometimes even both times -- the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol building.

But when President Donald Trump addresses a Joint Session of Congress Tuesday at 9 p.m., Engel will not be in his familiar seat.

"Unfortunately, since Jan. 20, 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," Engel said in a statement he read on the House floor Tuesday. "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 through both Democratic and Republican administrations alike.

"This will be the first time in my 29 years in the House that I have 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."

Engel's 16th Congressional District includes parts of the Bronx as well as Yonkers, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Scarsdale, Mamaroneck, Pelham, Pelham Manor, Larchmont, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Eastchester, Hastings-on-Hudson, Ardsley, Hartsdale and Rye City.

You can watch Engel deliver his statement on his decision here.

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