After 28 Years, Rep. Eliot Engel Ended A Tradition

Engel: “Devil’s in The Details” on Trump’s Plans

by David Greene

Congressman Eliot Engel would often spend the entire day protecting an aisle seat during a President’s speech to congress, but after 28 consecutive years, Engel didn’t shake hands with President Trump. Photo by David Greene

Congressman Eliot Engel spoke briefly on President Donald Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress, just days after the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs declined to not camp out and secure an aisle seat in order to shake hands with Trump– a daunting ritual he had faithfully done since 1988, when Ronald Reagan was America’s 40th President.

Engel offered, “I broke the cycle the other night,” before being asked his thoughts on Trump’s speech.
Representing the Bronx and Westchester, Engel said of the speech, “I thought it was uninspiring. I thought it was bland.”
“I think he made some good proposals,” Engel continued, “but didn’t talk about how he would pay for them. When he talks about decimating the Environmental Protection Agency and all these other things, he didn’t mention it.”
Engel added, “So I liked some of the things he had to say, but the devil is in the details and we don’t know the details.”
Hours before Trump’s nationally televised speech, Engel told his fellow members of Congress, “Since January 20th, 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.”
He concluded, “That’s why I’ve decided not to stand on the aisle of the House chamber to shake the President’s hand during the joint session of Congress, as I have done in the past through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. This will be the first time during my 29 years in the House that I’ve made that decision.”
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