Top House Democrats have urged members of their caucus to be "respectful" during President Trump's speech before joint session of Congress Tuesday night.
"The only thing we have urged members to be is respectful," said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., pointing to a decision by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., not to attend tonight. "She's announced she's not going because she believes people ought to be respectful to the president of the United States and she's not sure she could be, so she's not going to go. We have urged our members — the only thing we have them is respectful."
Hoyer said he is unsure of anyone else who is planning on skipping the speech.
Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., who chairs the House Democratic caucus, said during a Tuesday press conference that he does not expect any organized protest from members of the caucus and expects them to be "polite." He argued that the decision for members to stay silent and not applaud would say more than any protest.
"I don't anticipate organized protests, that I'm aware of. I think that each member needs to be mindful of their own actions, that they are representatives of the House of Representatives and representatives of their constituency," Crowley said. "As much as we have nothing in common with the president, we do respect the office of the presidency. I respect the office of the presidency itself, and keeping that in mind we will be polite, but we'll show very little, if any, enthusiasm at all for what I anticipate his speech will be about."
The speech comes amid nearly universal opposition to Trump and his policies from within the Democratic Party and their base throughout the first month and a half of his presidency, which has led to protests and demonstrations in major U.S. cities. Some even have floated the idea of a Democratic lawmaker interrupting Trump tonight as Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C. did when he yelled "you lie!" during a speech by former President Barack Obama in 2009 on healthcare.
"To some degree, that precedent was set by them," Crowley said, referring to Wilson and Republicans. "But I don't think we necessarily need to fall into that. I think that what we can demonstrate by our lack of enthusiasm, our lack of applause, but respectfully being there and dutifully being there but respectfully being there will send that same message."
However, not all Democratic lawmakers ruled out the possibility of a Wilson-esque moment. One high-ranking Democrat said that while they expect civility in the chamber Tuesday night, tensions could flare up depending on what Trump says.
"We are prepared to listen to what the president has to say. I expect that we won't agree with most of it, and I think most of us respect the office enough to not be so rude as to shout or otherwise demean the chamber," said Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who serves as the vice chair of the House Democratic caucus. "But having said that, people do get passionate and their reactions may be passionate. But so far as I understand, there is no planned or organized protests to what will happen this evening."