WASHINGTON – More than 60 Democratic members of the House are refusing to attend President-elect Donald J. Trump’s inauguration Friday, but Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, plans on going.
“While I certainly respect the decisions made by my colleagues in the Democratic caucus, I also have great respect for the American tradition of peaceful transition of power,” Higgins said on Wednesday. “Accordingly, I plan to attend Friday’s Inauguration ceremony at which that transition will take place.”
Dozens of House Democrats made a different decision, though, opting to stay home in honor of Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.
Lewis said last weekend that he doesn’t think Trump will be a legitimate president, given Russian involvement in aiding his election.
Lewis’ decision to skip the inauguration prompted a Twitter tirade from the president-elect, who said Lewis should focus on his Atlanta-based district.
That prompted many House Democrats, including Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, to choose to boycott the inauguration.
“I take the privilege of serving as a member of Congress seriously, so this was not an easy decision,” Slaughter said. “Congressman John Lewis and I came to Congress at the same time, and he has become like a brother to me … For all that he’s stood for all these years, I’m happy to stand with him.”
Higgins found a silver lining in the spat between the civil rights hero and the president-elect.
“I consider John Lewis one of this nation's greatest civil rights champions and a friend," Higgins said. "The president-elect’s comments about Congressman Lewis are in direct contrast to John’s life and legacy. But their recent discourse has allowed the story of John’s extraordinary courage in the pursuit of voting rights to play out in domestic and international media this week, retelling John’s inspirational story to millions."
New York's U.S. senators – Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, also a Democrat – plan on attending the inauguration.